What was on the menu as Ramaphosa and Kamala Harris met for breakfast
Several proteas — SA's national flower — were set out on the table when US vice-president Kamala Harris sat down for breakfast with President Cyril Ramaphosa at her official residence on Friday.
A menu in cursive script spelt out what was on the menu for the two leaders.
Omelette roulade with mushrooms, spinach and roasted tomato, a chicken apple sausage and a freshly baked sourdough bread with fresh fruit compote was offered along with coffee, tea and freshly squeezed orange juice.
Women's empowerment, health and security on the African continent were expected to be up for discussion as the leaders broke bread.
Ramaphosa, who landed in Washington DC on Thursday after a 20-hour flight, received a warm welcome from Harris as he kicked off his one-day working visit to the US.
“You brought the weather with you,” she quipped as he got out of the car in bright sunshine.
Ramaphosa arrived almost an hour later than scheduled.
In their remarks before the breakfast, Harris wished Ramaphosa a productive day of discussions at the White House later in the day with President Joe Biden, who initiated the visit.
She thanked Ramaphosa for his leadership on the African continent.
“The relationship between the US and SA is a very important one for many reasons,” she said, mentioning global warming and security challenges.
Ramaphosa said his visit was about strengthening the relationship between the two countries “but also to express our gratitude to the US in relation to the support the US has given during the Covid pandemic”.
This is in reference to the support by the US administration for a temporary and targeted waiver of intellectual property rights to enable the local manufacturing of vaccines, among other things.
“I'm really here also to discuss a number of issues with you: empowerment of women, human rights for women on our continent, and of course health matters, how we can strengthen health matters on our continent, and of course security matters as well. We believe the US can play a key role as the continent faces a number of challenges on the security level,” he said.
Harris made history by becoming the first woman and the first black woman to occupy a position in the US presidency when she was elected on Biden's ticket last year.
Harris responded, saying: “I really look forward to our day together,” before they entered her residence.
Ramaphosa's programme includes a meeting at the SA embassy with congressional leaders and veterans of the civil rights movement who opposed apartheid.
After lunch, Ramaphosa is expected to meet Biden “to discuss bilateral, regional and global issues of mutual interest, including trade and investment, climate change, food security, energy, and peace and security,” the presidency said.
“SA and the US enjoy historic and cordial relations. The US is a major export market for SA, a significant source of foreign direct investment and a partner in technology transfer, development assistance and tourism.”
Ramaphosa will return to the embassy for an intimate dinner meeting with, among others, members of the US Senate, to conclude his official programme.
The chief aim of the dinner appears to be to lobby senators not to push through with the Countering Malign Russian Activities in Africa Act which was passed by Congress in April with a large majority.
Its next step to becoming law is to pass through the Senate.
SA government officials have previously expressed the fear that the bill would punish SA and other African countries for continuing trade with Russia. Ramaphosa will leave for London on Saturday to attend Queen Elizabeth's funeral on Monday.
Support independent journalism by subscribing to the Sunday Times. Just R20 for the first month.
Would you like to comment on this article?
Sign up (it's quick and free) or sign in now.
Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.