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A visit to the UK state shows SA’s role on the world stage


The United Kingdom is rolling out the red carpet to host the first state visit to South Africa by a new monarch, a sign that the country at the southernmost tip of the African continent is still a major player on the international stage.

Today, President Cyril Ramaphosa will take part in his first state visit to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (UK) at the invitation of His Majesty King Charles III.

President Ramaphosa is the first head of state to receive a state visit from His Majesty King III, who ascended the throne following the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in September.

“It is a great honor for President Ramaphosa to be the first to be invited by the new king, and it sends a signal that South Africa remains an important country worth working with and once again playing a decisive role on the world stage,” said the head of the Africa Program of Governance and Diplomacy at the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA), Stephen Gruzd.

According to the presidency, royal state visits contribute to the development of bilateral relations and are a symbol of the respect and importance that Great Britain attaches to its relationship with a particular country.

According to the UK South Africa Twitter account, South Africa is the UK’s largest trading partner in Africa and the UK is the number one investor in South Africa.

Relations between both countries are extremely important.

“There have been links with Britain for centuries and it was one of the countries that colonized South Africa. There are deep connections at the level of government, business, mass media, sports, civil society and many others,” Gruzd said. SAnews.gov.za, on the eve of the two-day state visit.

Due to the fact that relations between the two countries are already at a high level, no changes in relations are expected.

“King Charles III is the head of state, not the head of the government. So, if change is to happen, it will be through Prime Minister Rusha Sunak’s government. However, relations could become closer on issues such as the environment, where King Charles III has long been a champion,” he said.

President Ramaphosa arrived in the UK on Monday and will be officially welcomed by His Majesty the King at a ceremony at Buckingham Palace today. Later in the day, the president is expected to address a joint session of the Houses of Parliament, followed by a state banquet at Buckingham Palace.

According to Gruzd, the environment, COVID-19 and the production and distribution of vaccines, trade ties and travel bans, the G20, food security and the war in Ukraine are likely to be some of the issues that will be discussed by the king and the president.

Further relations

On the challenges and opportunities that exist between the two countries, Gruzd said that while South Africa was upset by the travel ban imposed by Britain when South African scientists discovered the Omicron variant of COVID-19 last year, the leaders can talk about preventing a re-spread the occurrence

“There are always opportunities to increase trade and investment, which both countries really need,” he noted.

During the visit, the President will also hold official talks with Prime Minister Sunak to discuss a range of bilateral, continental and global issues.

“Key sectors considered for mutual benefit and to support economic growth and development in South Africa include infrastructure development, mining, energy, manufacturing, agro-processing, business process outsourcing and tourism,” the presidency said in a statement.

When asked about the value of state visits in a post-COVID-19 world, Gruzd said it was a sign that the world was returning to normal after the pandemic.

“They are a sign that the world is returning to normal after the pandemic. This visit shows that South Africa remains an important country,” he said, adding that the visit gives South Africa an opportunity to regain favor after challenges such as state capture and the fight against corruption.

“So while South Africa remains a tarnished country, this is a chance to change its image. It also serves to balance South Africa’s relationship with the West and with the BRICS [Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa] and the Global South’.

The presidency said the state visit followed high-level visits to the United Kingdom by Presidents Nelson Mandela, Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma after the return of democracy, as well as visits by King Charles III and the Queen Consort to South Africa.

The Prime Minister welcomes the President of SA

A statement from the prime minister’s office ahead of the visit said the UK and South Africa would join forces to boost economic growth and investment in turbocharging infrastructure.

“South Africa is already the UK’s largest trading partner [African] continent, and we have ambitious plans to drive infrastructure investment and economic growth together.

“I look forward to welcoming President Ramaphosa to London this week to discuss how we can deepen the partnership between our two great countries and take advantage of shared opportunities, from trade and tourism to security and defence,” said the Prime Minister. Minister Sunak.

The Prime Minister also added that the new Education and Skills Partnership between the UK and South African governments will also promote joint training in technical and vocational education, boosting youth employment.

The state visit will end on Wednesday. – SAnews.gov.za

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