PRESS BRIEFING ON PRESIDENT THABO MBEKI'S VISIT TO UNITED KINGDOM 17-19 MAY 2000
President Thabo Mbeki arrived in London, UK on Wednesday 17 May leading a high-level government delegation including Ministers Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma; Mosiuoa Lekota; Penuell Maduna; Essop Pahad and Alec Erwin and Directors-General Rev. Frank Chikane; Sipho Pityana and Joel Netshitenzhe, to attend the third SA-UK Bilateral Forum scheduled for 18-19 May.
The main focus of the visit is to strengthen and consolidate relations between SA and the UK especially in the areas of:
* investment and job creation
* co-operation on major multilateral issues.
The President will address a business roundtable over breakfast on Thursday 18 May with a small group of British and South African business leaders. Business leaders who will attend the meeting include representatives of Rolls Royce; Anglo-American; Diageo; British Airways; Rio Tinto; Taylor Woodrow; Smithkline Beecham; Transnet; Sanlam; Glaxo Wellcome; Thames Water; Smith Industries; The National Grid Group; Deutsche Bank; Warburg Dillon Reed; Barclays Capital; Robert Fleming and GKN;
The President will stress the strength of the fundamentals of the South African economy which is poised for growth. Closer relations with the international investment community can help sustain this growth. Manufacturing output has already strengthened and the recovery has broadened across the economy. Particular sectors of interest include telecommunications and IT especially in the build up to the Telcom IPO. Sectors associated with the Spatial Development Initiatives will also be highlighted including the revitalisation of the Ports and other transport infrastructure.
The Chairman of Standard and Poor is flying into the UK especially for a meeting with the President. Their confidence in the South African economy has been underlined by the maintenance of an investment grade credit rating for South Africa and a recent signal that South Africa's economic fundamentals remain sound.
The SA-UK Bilateral Forum will focus on a number of broader issues including how the two countries can co-operate to build a better world. Restructuring of international organisations such as the UN, the global financial architecture will be considered as well as the changing role of institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Consideration will also be given to the necessary steps to be undertaken to ensure the successful convening of a new round of trade negotiations at the World Trade Organisation.
The discussions will build upon continuing dialogue between South Africa and the UK on issues such as `joined up government' or what in South Africa has been called `integrated governance'. There has been a history of discussion between what is now the Presidency in South Africa and the Policy Unit at 10 Downing Street. This has provided valuable exchanges of experience on the running of various levels of government.
The discussions will also focus on regional issues such as Zimbabwe, DRC, Sierra Leone but will not be the main focus of the discussions. The issue of Zimbabwe is one area where SA and UK agree on the fundamental approach, specifically:
* Land reform and UK financial assistance for this reform
* The need to hold free and fair elections
* And the importance of bringing an end to violence.
The importance of multilateral approaches will again be the central focus of South Africa's input on issues of conflict resolution and capacity building.
A signal of the importance attached by the UK to relations with South Africa is the award of The Grand Commander of St George and St Michael which will be presented to President Mbeki by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on Thursday 18 May. In addition, Glasgow Caledonian University will be conferring an honorary Doctorate of Laws.
For more information contact Ronnie Mamoepa at 082-990-4853 or Parks Mankahlana at 082-553-4569
Issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs, 17 May 2000