South Africa to support Malawi’s AU summit preps

Malawi President Joyce Banda and her South African counterpart Jacob Zuma discussed preparations for the forthcoming African Union Summit which Malawi will be hosting in July, 2012, when the former visited the Rainbow Nation recently.

According to a communiqué read at a news conference addressed by President Banda at her official Lilongwe State Lodge in the Capital City on Friday, the President of South Africa pledged to support Malawi’s hosting obligations.

“To this end, South Africa has agreed to provide a loan of US$35 million for the purchase of fuel, out which US$10 million was disbursed April 24, 2012.

Kabambe: Read the Communique

“The two leaders also agreed that the respective Ministers of Finance should meet to discuss other credit lines that could be availed to Malawi to ensure the required foreign exchange cover to enable the country import necessary goods and services,” said the communiqué, which was read by Patrick Kabambe, Secretary for Foreign Affairs.

Kabambe said Zuma also announced that his government would provide other requirements for the AU summit including VVIP vehicles, training of protocol officers and computer equipment and accessories.

The President of South Africa also took note of the economic challenges that Malawi is currently facing and pledged to mobilize SADC leaders to help out the country.

The communiqué said Zuma congratulated President Banda on her ascension to the High Office of the Presidency of the Republic of Malawi. He also commended Malawians for the smooth transition of power following the death of the late president Bingu wa Mutharika.

“In turn, Her Excellency thanked President Zuma and the Government of South Africa on the unprecedented support during the death of the late President,” the communiqué read in part.

President Banda left Malawi for Pretoria, South Africa on April 27, 2012 where she joined President Zuma in festivities marking Freedom Day at the grounds of Union Building in Pretoria. They later in the afternoon, the two leaders held bilateral talks.

While in South Africa, Banda also met in audience Gracia Machel, wife of the former President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela. She also had audiences with the Malawi Association and members of the People’s Party, South Africa branch.

Visit to Liberia

According to the communiqué, on April 28, President Banda travelled to Monrovia, Liberia where she held bilateral discussions with her counterpart, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

“The two Presidents agreed to initiate closer cooperation between Malawi and Liberia. To this end, they agreed to establish a Joint Permanent Commission of Cooperation (JPCC) and directed the respective Ministers of Foreign Affairs to initiate the JPCC either before or just after the AU Summit.

“During a State Dinner hosted in her honour, the traditional leaders of Liberia bestowed on the Malawi leader an Honorary Paramount Chieftaincy,” The communiqué reads.

It was also disclosed that President Banda held separate meetings with Women Leaders of Liberia and the Africa Governance Initiative (AGI), besides meeting a group of Malawians resident in Liberia.

Visit to Nigeria

The following day, President Banda travelled to Abuja, Nigeria on her final leg of the trip.

During bilateral discussions, President Goodluck Jonathan pledged to assist Malawi to deal with the economic challenges that the country is facing, according to the communiqué.

“The two leaders agreed to further strengthen the cordial bilateral relations between the two countries. During the bilateral discussions, the President of Nigeria announced that they would be opening a resident embassy in Lilongwe hopefully before the AU Summit,” reads the communiqué.

It concludes that President Banda’s official visits to South Africa, Liberia and Nigeria was “a resounding success as she received pledges to support Her Presidency and enhance bilateral cordial relations between Malawi and these countries”.

On arrival from her trip on Monday, April 30, 2012, Banda said she could not address the press until she briefed her cabinet what had transpired during her trip.

She promised to call for a press conference after briefing cabinet, which she did on Friday.

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