South Africa and the government of the Central African Republic (CAR) have intensified diplomatic efforts to bolster bilateral trade and investment cooperation.

This was revealed after the meeting between President Jacob Zuma and his counterpart from the Central African Republic, Faustine Touadera.

The CAR leader is on a working visit to South Africa.

President Zuma and Touadera used their meeting to review and strengthen bilateral relations.

The two Presidents have also exchanged views on the political and security situation in their respective regions and the continent.

The CAR is still reeling from the negative impact of a protracted civil war.

Whilst there are still some hotspots experiencing rebel attacks, President Zuma believes that the central African state is making progress in achieving peace and stability.

President Zuma has welcomed an invitation for South African companies to invest in the CAR.

“We need to strengthen our economies. They are keen that South African investors should come to CAR. The CAR is a very rich country and wants to work with companies from South Africa.”

The new government under President Touadera has now pledged to erect a monument in honour of the soldiers who fell in the capital Bangui

In March 2013, about 13 South African soldiers lost their lives after an ambush by the CAR Seleka rebel group. The incident sparked outrage in Pretoria resulting in the recall of the entire team of soldiers deployed there to guard strategic assets. The new government under President Touadera has now pledged to erect a monument in honour of the soldiers who fell in the capital Bangui. “I want to thank President Zuma for supporting us during the crisis where South African soldiers lost their lives. We are going to build a memorial to honour fallen soldiers as a gesture of solidarity with the people of South Africa.” The two presidents reaffirmed the urgent need for armed groups in the Central African Republic to lay down arms and take part in security sector reform and the disarmament and demobilisation programme. Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Ngqakula has, however, stressed that Pretoria is not considering any troops to help with re-integration programme. “You will appreciate that we have to be sensitive if we talk about issues of defence to defence. But putting the boots on the ground in the CAR is not on offer. We can assist, but there is no talk of putting boots on the ground at all.” The two leaders have also agreed to establish a Joint Commission for Cooperation to promote economic, cultural, scientific and technical cooperation. Click below for more on the story:

– By Tshepo Ikaneng