Zuma jets off to Burundi

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Pretoria - President Jacob Zuma will leave today to visit the Republic of Burundi with the aim of strengthening relations between the two countries, his office said on Wednesday.

Zuma was invited by Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza for a two-day visit, starting on Thursday.

The two leaders will review progress on key areas of bilateral relations and exchange views on issues that are currently affecting the African continent, especially the political developments in the eastern region and global multilateral matters.

They will also witness the signing of two memoranda of understanding on bilateral co-operation in the field of agriculture and livestock, economic and technical co-operation, as well as two agreements on education and defence co-operation, the Presidency said.

Zuma's delegation will include Minister of Higher Education Blade Nzimande, and Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry Thandi Tobias-Poloka, as well as several officials from the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

"South Africa believes the time has come to work more closely with Burundi in the country's post-conflict reconstruction and development, and use the existing relations to promote cooperation in Trade and Investment, Higher Education and Defence," the Presidency said.

Burundi and South Africa enjoy tight relations. South Africa was requested and mandated by the countries of the eastern African region community to facilitate peace talks in Burundi from the mid-90s.

This led to the conclusion of the peace process in December 2009. As a result of Pretoria's engagement in Burundi, a general co-operation agreement was signed between the two countries on 4 February 2007.

South Africa had also assisted the government of Burundi with various development projects such as the hosting of the permanent Commission Electoral National Independence (CENI) shortly before the 2010 elections in Burundi.

In collaboration with the United Nations Development program (UNDP), South Africa invited CENI to attend further workshops within the context of the 2011 local municipal elections and to observe the election processes in the country.

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