Zambia, SA trade ties sound
This has been underlined by a co-operation agreement signed between the two southern African states on correctional services matters. South Africa’s Correctional Service Minister Ngconde Balfour signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Zambian High Commissioner to South Africa, Lesley Mbula this week in Tshwane. As part of the bilateral agreement, the two parties will exchange information on the management of prisons and the maintenance of buildings and facilities. The MoU is seen as underpinning the countries’ commitment to universal norms of human rights, cooperation for mutual benefit as well as pursuing the objectives of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (Nepad). To fulfil the provisions of the agreement, the countries will determine the modalities for monitoring, evaluation and implementation of the activities agreed upon. Such activities include strategic or technical, educational tours, fact-finding missions, exchange programmes and information sharing. The parties will establish a joint committee to facilitate the implementation of the agreement. Balfour said a technical team had already conducted “intensive groundwork” to support prison services in Zambia. Between 2002 and 2005 South Africa provided Zambia with a consignment worth R3 million that included uniforms for both inmates and correctional officers. “Our officials went to Zambia during the process of the development of the plan for the implementation of the MoU and this occasion is the enhancement of already existing relations.” he said. Balfour said South Africa wanted to diversify support to Zambia to include training in management development and leadership in line with courses offered through the South African Management Development Institute (Samdi) and the University of South Africa. “I am aware of the initiative that the department has already taken in extending this training to our counterparts in the SADC region. “Consultative discussions with our Zambian colleagues also need to commence so that we are able to collectively determine the format of training needed to strengthen the quality of correctional services provided in the region,” he said. Balfour stressed that the agreement would assist both countries meet the minimum standards of incarceration and treatment of offenders as defined by the United Nations (UN). High Commissioner Mbula said it would be regrettable if the MoU would be “shelved in our head offices to gather dust”. “The two governments will expect tangible programmes that will bring changes in the management of prisons or correctional facilities and the humane treatment of inmates,” said Mbula. Meanwhile, South African businessmen have been challenged to fully and actively participate in continental issues to help realise Africa’s Renaissance. The call was made by South African President Thabo Mbeki at the annual general meeting of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry South Africa (Chamsa). President Mbeki said it was expected of business to play an important role in helping with the regeneration, development and growth in Africa. “I am aware that there are a number of South African businesses that have taken the initiative to invest and operate in different countries of our continent. Most of these companies report positive returns from their investments,” he said. Chamsa was formed in 2003 when the country’s four business chambers namely Nafcoc, Ahi, Fabcos and Sacob merged. Mbeki said he was “happy” and encouraged by Chamsa’s heightened role within the Southern African Development Community (SADC). The organisation hosts the Permanent Secretariat of the Association of SADC Chambers of Commerce and Industry to assist business and governments in their efforts to expand the regional economy. He reminded the organisation of government’s work in bringing about peace and democracy in the Democratic Republic of Congo saying few knew about Chamsa’s role in establishing the SA/DRC Business Council in both countries. “This you have done conscious of the fact that it will be difficult for the South African economy to develop and grow in the midst of regional economies that are stagnant and declining. “We therefore thank you for the work that Chamsa is doing to address the important issue of balanced regional development,” he said. Meanwhile the President told the gathering that since the launch of the Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative for South Africa (ASGISA) in February, government had been hard at work to elaborate the specific interventions to drive the initiative whose outcome should help halve unemployment and poverty by 2014. He reiterated that South Africa had entered the “Age of Hope” because of advances that had been made “in a short space of time”, and opportunities that had been made possible for accelerated progress. But he reminded Chamsa about the existence of the first and second economies. “The economy is performing well, with the promise of even higher levels of growth. Yet, we know that both unemployment and poverty are still at unacceptable levels. We also know that the benefits of our economic growth are not shared equitably among the citizens of our country,” he said. He added that in developing a strong, prosperous and job creating economy, Chamsa in collaboration with its sister organisation, Business Unity of South Africa (Busa) were strong partners of the government. Mbeki was awarded with the prestigious Chamsa Presidential Award for his role in economic development.