Zuma vis­its Le­sotho for SACU talks

Lesotho Times - - News - Bereng Mpaki

A high-pow­ered South African del­e­ga­tion led by pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma is ex­pected in Maseru to­day to meet prime Min­is­ter pakalitha Mo­sisili over the South­ern African Cus­toms Union (SACU).

Mr Zuma would be ac­com­pa­nied by in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions and Co­op­er­a­tion Min­is­ter Maite Nkoana-masha­bane, Trade and in­dus­try Min­is­ter rob davies, and Fi­nance Min­is­ter pravin gord­han.

Ac­cord­ing to the prime Min­is­ter’s spokesper­son Mo­tumi rale­joe, the one-day visit is part of Mr Zuma’s con­sul­ta­tions as SACU Sum­mit chair­per­son.

SACU con­sists of Botswana, Le­sotho, Namibia, South Africa and Swazi­land, and the re­gional trade bloc main­tains a com­mon ex­ter­nal tar­iff, shares cus­toms rev­enues, and co­or­di­nates poli­cies and de­ci­sion-mak­ing on a wide range of trade is­sues. Mr Zuma has al­ready been to Swazi­land, Botswana and Namibia.

“i can con­firm that pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma is ex­pected to visit Le­sotho to­mor­row to meet prime Min­is­ter dr pakalitha Mo­sisili on is­sues con­cern­ing SACU.

“he is sched­uled to meet dr Mo­sisili at 10:30am,” Mr rale­joe yes­ter­day told the Le­sotho Times.

“You will re­call that as chair of the SACU Sum­mit, Mr Zuma has been to Botswana, Namibia and Swazi­land, and is now com­ing to Le­sotho,” Mr rale­joe said.

he fur­ther said the con­sul­ta­tions were a fol­low up on dis­cus­sions held by the SACU heads of State and gov­ern­ment dur­ing the in­au­gu­ra­tion of the new SACU head­quar­ters in wind­hoek, Namibia last year.

Mr rale­joe would not be drawn into dis­clos­ing spe­cific is­sues to be dis­cussed and other Le­sotho of­fi­cials Mr Zuma and his team are also set to meet.

“As of now, i am not aware of the nit­tygrit­ties of their dis­cus­sions but we will in­form you as soon as we have such in­for­ma­tion.”

on her part, Fi­nance Min­is­ter dr ‘Mam­phono Khaketla said Mr Zuma’s visit was “rou­tine” for a SACU chair­per­son.

“SACU is an im­por­tant in­sti­tu­tion for Le­sotho as a sig­nif­i­cant por­tion of our na­tional bud­get comes from this body. That is why it is im­por­tant for us to pro­tect it,” dr Khaketla said.

“we have to safe­guard it against the il­le­gal im­por­ta­tion of goods into the coun­try, since by so do­ing, we are re­duc­ing the amount of col­lected rev­enue which is shared among mem­ber-states.”

Le­sotho’s share of SACU rev­enue has been steadily de­clin­ing over the past few years due to a slow­down in the per­for­mance of the global econ­omy.

The 2016/2017 SACU rev­enue share is es­ti­mated to ac­count for 32 per­cent of Le­sotho’s bud­get — down from 42 per­cent in 2014/15.

Asked if the di­min­ish­ing share of Le­sotho’s SACU rev­enue would be dis­cussed dur­ing the meet­ing, dr Khaketla said: “Since he is com­ing specif­i­cally to meet the prime Min­is­ter, i am not in a po­si­tion to know what is­sues will be on the ta­ble other than the fact that this is a rou­tine visit for pres­i­dent Zuma as the chair­per­son of the SACU Sum­mit.

“Th­ese meet­ings are gen­er­ally in­tended to de­ter­mine whether SACU is still serv­ing its man­date af­ter all th­ese years since its in­cep­tion.”

Mean­while, the South African pres­i­dency on Tues­day said dis­cus­sions would be on progress mem­ber-states have made in im­ple­ment­ing pro­grammes adopted by the 2011 SACU Sum­mit.

“The de­lib­er­a­tions will also con­sider re­gional, con­ti­nen­tal and global eco­nomic and trade de­vel­op­ments and their impact on SACU,” the pres­i­dency noted in a state­ment.

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