SA lends support to Liberian 2017 elections

Friday, August 11, 2017
More Matshediso

President Jacob Zuma has declared South Africa’s commitment to provide technical support and assistance for the upcoming Presidential and Legislative Elections in Liberia.

The President made the declaration on Friday after concluding discussions with Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who was in the country on a State visit.

Liberia is preparing for its October General Elections, at a time when South Africa celebrates Women’s Month in the year of paying homage to Oliver Reginald Tambo.

President Zuma wished Liberians well ahead of the elections. He hosted President Sirleaf in South Africa’s capital, Tshwane. The two Heads of State reviewed issues pertaining to the two countries’ relations and areas in need of improvement. Both Presidents declared the discussions fruitful and productive.

They committed to strengthen the bond of friendship and comradeship that exists between the countries, complemented by their commitment to emancipate citizens from hunger, illiteracy and lack of employment, amongst other burning issues.

“We have agreed to deepen cooperation between our two countries across a number of fields and take these relations to a higher level.

“This visit has afforded us an opportunity to review a wide range of bilateral, regional and international issues of mutual interest. It is pleasing to note that we are of the same mind in relation to how and what our continent and the world should look like,” said President Zuma.

He used the platform to commend the people of Liberia for defeating the Ebola outbreak under the leadership of President Johnson Sirleaf, together with the support of the African Union.

“At the time, we recall that the continental body, under the leadership of the then AU Commission chairperson, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, rallied the support of the Africa against Ebola Solidarity Trust, which pledged $34 million, to which MTN -- a South African based telecommunications company -- donated $10 million to the West African effort.”

Although economic activity between the two countries is still relatively low, President Zuma said there is ample opportunity for both countries to expand economic relations.

“In this context, we recall the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on Economic and Technical Cooperation, which was signed in December 2015, which has the potential to enhance our trade relations.

“Currently, the major South African businesses that have large investments in Liberia are MTN and DSTV.  We encourage more private sector companies to invest in Liberia.

“Given the abundant business opportunities that exist between our countries, we have agreed to look into improving an enabling environment to ease the manner of doing business in our respective countries.”

The two Heads of State have agreed to finalise the signing of a visa waiver agreement for holders of diplomatic and official passports soon.

They have also agreed to speed up discussions and finalising other bilateral instruments on agriculture, tourism, health, energy, water and sanitation.

“We are determined that our countries should continue to work together to take our relations to greater heights,” said President Zuma.

Peace efforts in Africa

In relation to issues concerning Africa, President Zuma said both South Africa and Liberia are greatly concerned over the challenges threatening the continent’s peace and security.

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms all forms of terrorism and extremism.  The activities of these illicit groups continue to dampen and hinder the much needed developments in most of the countries on the continent.

“Africa’s development is dependent on peace and stability. We would like to reiterate the call for all regional bodies to intensify efforts to rid our beloved continent of these negative elements.”

South Africa and Liberia have committed to continue to work together in multilateral engagements to address matters affecting the continent.

“We are resolute in our call for the reform of the multilateral institutions, including the United Nations Security Council, to better represent the interests of the South.

“We are committed to increasing and deepening cooperation, friendship and solidarity between our two nations. We are satisfied and convinced that this visit will serve as a precursor for increasing contact between our people and improve our economic relations,” President Zuma said.

President Johnson Sirleaf said the visit was monumental in that it provided the opportunity to look at the many exchanges that have taken place over the years in an attempt to identify specific areas of cooperation and partnership.

She affirmed the mutual commitment to see Africa take its rightful place in the committee of nations. -

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