South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma on Tuesday praised Nigeria’s democratic example in peacefully transferring power in 2015, and “charting the way the entire continent of Africa needs to follow”.
Addressing a joint session of Nigeria’s National Assembly in Abuja, Mr. Zuma hailed Nigeria’s long history of pan-African struggles, and offered his country’s help to Nigeria in the areas of solid minerals and power.
“In this building that symbolizes, democracy,” Mr. Zuma said, “with the manner you achieved democratic change through the 2015 election, we are incredibly proud of you. You charted the way the entire continent needs to follow. We salute you for that.”
Mr. Zuma applauded Nigeria’s frontline role towards “the cause of freedom and an end to Apartheid in South Africa”.
He specially noted the pro-Africa commitment of former head of state, Murtala Muhammed, reputed for his staunch Afrocentric foreign policy and the liberation struggle in South Africa.
Under late Mr. Murtala, killed in a coup d’état 40 years ago, Mr. Zuma said Nigeria’s support for Augustino Neto’s Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola, MPLA, helped the Southern African country attain independence in 1975.
He said Nigeria and South Africa had leadership role to play to achieve peace and prosperity in Africa.
He said Africa should move away from its colonial status of being producer of primary commodities in the international economic system to producer of finished goods.
Mr. Zuma was accompanied to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari in a historic appearance. It was the first time a foreign leader would be accompanied by the host president to the National Assembly to address the Nigerian lawmakers, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, said.
Mr. Zuma said South Africa could assist Nigeria in the areas of solid mineral exploration and electricity generation.
“South African solid minerals mining experience can contribute to solid minerals exploration in Nigeria. Our success in the electricity can also be tapped into to assist the Nigerian electricity generation,” Mr. Zuma said to the applause of the audience which included members of Federal Executive Council and the lawmakers.
Earlier, Mr. Zuma, who expressed sympathy over the death of Nigeria’s junior labour minister, James Ocholi, said the honour of addressing the National Assembly indicated the serious of the relationship between Nigeria and South Africa.
He advocated improved cooperation between the two nations.
Although Nigeria and South Africa have “many” Memorandum of Understanding and bilateral agreements, he said both countries should pursue their implementations for mutual benefits.
He disclosed that South Africa now has 120 companies operations in different sectors of Nigerian economy, from four in 1999.
He assured that South Africa will review its visa policies for Nigerians to boost trade and partnership.