resident Cyril Ramaphosa has called for reinvigoration of the ties of commerce, trade and investment between South African and the United Kingdom.
Ramaphosa addressed MPs and Peers in the Royal Gallery of the House of Lords during his state visit to Great Britain on the invitation of King Charles III and the British queen consort, Camilla.
He said he had discussed “initiatives that can be embarked upon by the Commonwealth under the leadership of his majesty the king” over lunch at Buckingham Palace.
Ramaphosa said he would raise the idea of allowing more South African students to study in Britain when he meets Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Wednesday, and added that the restructuring of South Africa’s energy market to battle power shortages could provide opportunities for British companies.
Britain hopes the visit, which had been planned before the death of Queen Elizabeth in September, will strengthen trade and investment ties between the two nations, and show the importance of links with the Commonwealth of Nations, the international organisation which Charles now heads.
“This is a reinforcement of the strong bilateral relationship that we have with South Africa, a real opportunity to build on that close working relationship and discuss some of the issues that affect us all,” British foreign minister James Cleverly told Reuters.
First state visit since 2019
Ramaphosa was officially greeted by Charles’ eldest son and heir, Prince William, and his wife, Kate, at a central London hotel to mark the start of his two-day trip, the first state visit to the UK by a world leader since that of then-US president Donald Trump and his wife, Melania, in 2019.
The last state visit to Britain by a South African leader was that of former president Jacob Zuma in 2010.
Gun salutes and a ceremonial welcome from the king and his wife, Camilla, the queen consort, followed before a grand carriage procession along The Mall to Buckingham Palace, where a banquet will be held later in the president’s honour.
Ramaphosa was scheduled to visit Westminster Abbey to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior and see the memorial stone for former South African president Nelson Mandela.
Ramaphosa said that Britain had stood with South Africa to help free Mandela and end apartheid, and now called on Britain to support the calls of lower income countries for a reformed global institutional order and climate justice.
“Let us rekindle the moral purpose of the global fight against apartheid to confront the discrimination, inequality and injustice that divides humanity and that stifles the progress of all,” he said.
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