Switzerland, South Africa step up cooperation

South Africa and Switzerland have agreed to step up economic and political cooperation, with the Swiss government Tuesday pledging to continue its support for development projects and conflict prevention.

This content was published on October 12, 1999

South African President Thabo Mbeki and visiting Swiss Foreign Minister Joseph Deiss have agreed to step up cooperation, with Switzerland Tuesday pledging to continue its support for development projects and conflict prevention.
In a joint declaration, the two countries agreed on a SFr50 million ($33 million) Swiss support package for economic aid and development projects over the next five years.

Under the memorandum of understanding signed by Deiss (left) and his South African counterpart Nkosazana Zuma (right), the Swiss contributions will help finance land reform programmes in the eastern Cape region, agriculture projects and conflict-prevention efforts.

Earlier in the day, Deiss co-chaired a Swiss-South African group discussing conflict prevention in post-apartheid South Africa.

Switzerland helped form the working group in order to assist the country in the process of introducing democratic reforms, which were launched after the collapse of white minority rule and the country’s first democratic all-race elections in 1994.

Swiss government spokesman Ruedi Christen said after the talks that both countries expressed the wish to step up political relations in the future.

Switzerland’s ties with South Africa during the country’s apartheid rule were not touched on during Deiss’ talks with Zuma, Christen told journalists.

A recent Swiss report said that, with hindsight, the Swiss government had been too cautious in condemning white minority rule and apartheid policies while maintaining close trade ties with the gold and diamond-rich nation.

On the first stop of his three-nation African tour on Monday, Deiss signed a SFr31 million ($21 million) accord in support of new health sector projects, road construction and debt buy-back programmes in Tanzania.

Deiss is scheduled to travel on to Mozambique on Thursday.

From staff and wire reports.

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