PRESIDENT of the Republic of South Africa Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma will be a guest of Jamaica during a State visit to mark Jamaica's Golden Jubilee next month.
The colourful Zuma is scheduled to arrive at the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston on Saturday, August 4, and will be accorded a Guard of Honour furnished by the Jamaica Defence Force.
President Zuma, who is scheduled to leave Jamaica on Tuesday, August 7, will hold bilateral talks with Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller and members of her Cabinet, and call on the Leader of the Opposition Andrew Holness.
A Jamaica House release said Zuma will be the special guest of honour at a State Dinner to be hosted by Governor General Sir Patrick Allen and Lady Allen, and will attend various events in celebration of Jamaica 50.
"President Zuma will also experience some of Jamaica's tourism attractions," Jamaica House said. The release said it is expected that Zuma's visit will serve to diversify bilateral relations and promote cooperation in various fields.
President Zuma, who in 2007 became the head of the largest political party of South Africa — the African National Congress (ANC) — was elected president of South Africa in 2009. His visit to Jamaica comes in the 100th year of the ANC and the 16th anniversary of South Africa's (post-apartheid) Constitution.
Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki, who served as head of the ANC, have both visited Jamaica. Mandela visited in 1991 when he was the head of the ANC and before he was elected as the first president of democratic South Africa. In 2003, South African President Thabo Mbeki became the first South African head of state to visit Jamaica.
During the period of apartheid, Zuma was imprisoned for 10 years on Robben Island. After his release, he continued the struggle to make South Africa a democratic country and was integral in negotiations that led to the lifting of the ban on the ANC in 1990.
President Zuma is credited with great strategic thinking and conflict resolution skills that played a pivotal role in ending conflict in the KwaZulu Natal (KZN) region of South Africa. That experience has aided his efforts as mediator and facilitator of peace on the African continent.
In South Africa itself, President Zuma's major focus is on promoting social equity and justice. He has strengthened the Broad-Based Black Empowerment Act to prevent non-compliance, circumvention and abuse and has taken action to accelerate universal access to education and improve health services.
He also launched the South Africa Renewable Initiative — a funding mechanism designed to unlock the country's green energy potential and reduce the burden on its citizens, mainstreamed job creation in every government body, and developed partnerships between government, the private sector and labour, having declared the inescapable need for a common purpose and determination to build South Africa.
The Republic of South Africa, a nation of 50 million people with 11 official languages, has an abundant supply of natural resources; well-developed financial, legal, communications, energy, and transport sectors; a stock exchange that is the 18th largest in the world; and modern infrastructure supporting a relatively efficient distribution of goods to major urban centres throughout the region.
Jamaica and South Africa have a long history that pre-dated Independence when Premier Norman Manley declared a blockade of trade between Jamaica and South Africa, which had an apartheid government at that time. Jamaica's consistent opposition to apartheid and renowned international advocacy for global action against that heinous regime and its unswerving support for the ANC helped to form the basis of the excellent bilateral relations with South Africa.
Diplomatic relations were established between Jamaica and South Africa in 1994, following the election of a representative majority government in post-apartheid South Africa. The Jamaican High Commission in Pretoria was opened in late 2006.