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South African President Zuma to Meet Angolan Counterpart Wednesday


South Africa President Jacob Zuma is scheduled to hold bilateral discussions with Angola's President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos Wednesday.

This is Zuma's first state visit to oil-rich Angola since his election as president.

South African officials say the visit is aimed at strengthening bilateral and economic ties with Angola.

But political analysts say the trip is Pretoria's attempt to jumpstart apparent frosty diplomatic relations between South Africa and Angola.

Somadoda Fikeni, a political analyst told VOA that the new South African administration aims to improve relations with its international partners.

"I would say that there is an attempt by the South African new administration to improve relations with the countries where it seems they were chilly before. And not only that there is a conscious attempt to mend fences whether with the U.S where the relationship was frosty or with Angola," Fikeni said.

He said both Angola and South Africa can benefit from improved relations.

"Angola has massive natural resources, which remain less exploited. And now with South African technology, there is a possibility that they could easily manage to exploit these resources nearby," he said.

Members of President Zuma's delegation include Minister of International Relations Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Minister of Human Settlements Tokyo Sexwale, and Minister of Public Enterprises Barbara Hogan as well as South African businessmen.

Fikeni said the makeup of President Zuma's delegation shows Pretoria's desire to strengthen bilateral ties with Luanda.

"It signifies that the economy and trade business is at the very core of it and also closer interaction between the countries and a freer movement between the countries business and people. So, that in itself I think is the main focus," Fikeni said.

He said former President Thabo Mbeki's administration didn't foster closer ties with Angola.

"There are a number of reasons, which are presented as possible explanations and one of those is the fact that when you talk of the military wing of the ANC (ruling African National Congress), it was closer to Angola together with the South African Communist Party, but the political wing was not as close. So, Thabo Mbeki was part of that political wing of the ANC. Instead, he didn't have as good a relationship as was the case with Zuma who was closer to the military," he said.

Fikeni said Angola apparently feels unappreciated after supporting the ANC in its liberation struggle against apartheid.

"Definitely there is that element and quite pointedly the ANC during its Polokwane conference did point out that it's going to renew relationship with its former liberation movement partners. And that in itself, MPLA (Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola) of Angola was singled out as one of those so here you do have a conscious effort to re-establish those relationships," Fikeni said.

Meanwhile, according to South African officials, President Zuma is also expected to ask Angola to play a greater part in Pretoria's peacekeeping efforts across Africa.

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