By Lisa Kadango, MANA in Pretoria
President Lazarus Chakwera arrived in Pretoria, South Africa Thursday for a two-day working visit which will enhance bilateral relations between the two countries.
He was welcomed by South Africa’s Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Thoko Didiza and leader of the advance Malawi delegation — Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Eisenhower Mkaka among others.
South Africa’s President, Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to hold bilateral meetings with President Chakwera with a focus on the strengthening economic cooperation.
Mkaka has described South Africa as a key partner to Malawi and share a long history of ties which date back to early 1960’s and they are both under Commonwealth.
“Most Malawians work and seek opportunities in South Africa,” he said. “Malawi also enjoys foreign investment including trade agreements [with South Africa].”
While in South Africa, President Chakwera’s engagements will likely be concentrated on areas of cooperation and strengthening of the cordial relations that already exist between the two countries.
He is accompanied by First Lady, Madame Monica Chakwera; Minister of Homeland Security, Richard Chimwendo Banda; Minister of Gender Patricia Kaliati; Minister of Health Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda; Minister of Labour Ken Kandodo and Minister of Trade Sosten Gwengwe.
On Wednesday, Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Lucky Sikwese said all agreements that will emanate from bilateral talks in South Africa need to be followed up at ministerial level.
He said this during a preparatory meeting ahead of Chakwera’s arrival and he emphasized the need of following up important sectoral issues expected to be discussed by two countries which include trade, security, labour and tourism among others.
‘’Let’s ensure that we follow up the outcomes of these meetings and produce comprehensive reports out of them as they stand to benefit local Malawians,” Sikwese said.
He added that he was expecting the ministry’s representatives across the board to change the approach and set high standards of service to Malawians.
“Government is taking these meetings seriously, hence the need not to allow anyone to move backwards and that controlling officers should set the stage and make things move,” he said.
He also appealed to the Malawian delegation to ensure that all the sectors that were and would be identified as key through these bilateral talks come up with concrete action.
Sikwese added that Malawi through recent working visits that the president has conducted has registered a lot of interest from our neighboring countries through the revived Joint Commission of Cooperation frameworks.
He disclosed that Zambia is ready to send its delegation to Malawi early next year to cement and concretize what the two Heads of State discussed in their earlier working meeting in the capital, Lusaka.
The Malawi leader is expected to return home on Friday through Kamuzu International Airport.