President Jacob Zuma and First lady Bongi Ngema-Zuma have arrived in New York on a commercial South African Airlines (SAA) flight from Johannesburg to begin his official programme on the margins of the United Nations 71st session of the General Assembly.
Zuma’s commercial flight on SAA’s non-stop flight to New York set social media alight with questions.
However, presidential spokesperson, Dr Bongani Ngqulunga, says this does not indicate a change in policy for the President’s international travel. “This was an opportunity for the President to promote the airline-the national carrier. He used it and I have said, it’s because it was easy, Johannesburg to New York, it’s not like he had to connect somewhere – and he really enjoyed it. He had an enjoyable and restful journey to New York and he’s quite glad he did it,” says Ngqulunga.
This year’s focus at the UN’s 71st session of the General Assembly remains the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) under the theme “a universal push to transform the world”. A packed schedule will see him engage in four main areas that will include peace and security in Africa and a strong focus on interactions with business leaders in promoting the country as an investment destination.
The President will be supported by at least seven cabinet ministers during his visit.
Zuma will meet the UN Secretary General Sunday amidst a jam-packed schedule that will include an African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council meeting on tackling conflicts in Africa, participate in a landmark migration summit on Monday, his address to the General Assembly on Tuesday before attending the US Africa Business Forum on Wednesday. South Africa’s Ambassador to the UN, Jerry Matjila, says, “There’ll be four occasions where the President really drives home the need to mobilize investment. He’s going to address the Africa-US (Business) Summit on the issue of job shift, etc. So that’s one area that’s going to be very high, the need to begin to invest in different sectors of the economy.”
South Africa will hand over the chair of the Open Government Partnership to France with whom Zuma will present a report to the UN Chief on the findings of the High Level Commission on Health, Employment and Economic Growth. “What we are trying to do is to align his participation here with our national interests, our nine point plan and five government priorities. So there is always that link up with domestic challenges in South Africa.”
Another strong focus for the delegation is a high level meeting on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) which threatens the effective prevention and treatment of a range of infections caused by bacteria and so on.
South Africa is keen to position itself as a centre for the research, development and distribution of new antibiotics to counter AMR throughout sub Saharan Africa. Ambassador Matjila explains, “There is a need to have new research in new molecules and new antibiotics and the discussion here is to see how we position ourselves, as South Africa, to be the centre of research and development for new antibiotics, production and distribution. This will be dealt with in the plan, so President Zuma and his entourage of ministers and Mr [Aaron] Motsoaledi will be honing on this area of work.”
The President is likely to engage in side discussions on the search for the next Secretary- General also, while the question of Security Council reform remains a firm focus of the African agenda.[Source: SABC]