LISTEN | UK ready to roll out red carpet for Ramaphosa’s state visit

16 November 2022 - 16:42
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President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to meet with UK prime minister Rishi Sunak during his first state visit to Britain next week.
President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to meet with UK prime minister Rishi Sunak during his first state visit to Britain next week.

The UK says it’s ready to roll out the red carpet for President Cyril Ramaphosa and first lady Tshepo Motsepe’s historic state visit next week.

Briefing the media on Wednesday, British high commissioner to South Africa Antony Phillipson said Ramaphosa’s visit next week Tuesday and Wednesday is a significant moment for both countries.

Listen to what he had to say: 

“It is the first state visit that will be hosted by His Majesty King Charles III and Queen Consort (Camilla). It is not the first state visit by a South African president, there have been state visits previously by President Nelson Mandela (1996), Thabo Mbeki (2001) and Jacob Zuma (2010),” said Phillipson.

The visit, he said, is also significant in the context of the bilateral and Commonwealth relationship.

“We certainly see South Africa as a key member of the Commonwealth of nations and obviously His Majesty is now the head of the Commonwealth, a role he took over on the death of his mother in September.”

South Africa and the UK share deep links, with more than 13,000 South Africans taking up UK citizenship in 2021 and 400,000 Brits visiting SA annually (according to pre-Covid-19 statistics).

Phillipson said there are also intensive trade and investment links, with South Africa being the UK’s largest trade partner in Africa.

“We work closely on a shared agenda around inclusive economic growth and health both bilaterally and in terms of global health and on climate change, where we are partners with France, Germany, US, the EU, along with South Africa on the just energy partnership that we launched at the COP Summit in Glasgow.

“Last year and last week we saw the launch of the just transition investment plan that sets out how we and our partners will be mobilising that $8.5bn (R147bn) of financing over the next three to five years. Along with other sources of investment and financing South Africa will need to support its transition to a low carbon economy helping in a long way to build a greener planet.”

The state visit will also be used to announce new partnerships between the two countries in health, science and innovation, clean energy technologies, including hydrogen, and how the two countries can work together to strengthen the healthcare systems in South Africa.

All of this, he said, will be done under the banner of boosting inclusive economic growth.

He added that a lot of work has been conducted between UK and South African policy officials in the past few months to secure those new partnerships.

“We think these collaborations will build justice, opportunity and fairness for all in both our countries and as we work together through the G20, within the various multilateral organisations that we sit together in, and I imagine South Africa will continue to be a regular guest at places like the G7.”

Ramaphosa is set to arrive in the UK on Monday November 21, where he will be greeted by Lord-in-waiting Viscount Hood (Henry Hood) on behalf of the king.

Day 1

The state visit kicks off officially on the morning of Tuesday November 22, when Ramaphosa will be greeted by the Prince and Princess of Wales, William and Kate Middleton, at his hotel.

The royals will then accompany Ramaphosa to the ceremonial Horse Guards Parade, where he will receive a ceremonial welcome from King Charles and Camilla and other senior members of the UK establishment and government.

He will then be accompanied by King Charles to inspect the Guard of Honour — after which the King and Camilla, along with William and Kate, will take a carriage procession down the mile to Buckingham Palace where they will be met by a second Guard of Honour in the courtyard at the palace.

Phillipson said this will be followed by a private welcome lunch for Ramaphosa and his delegation at Buckingham Palace hosted by King Charles III.

After lunch there will be a viewing of an exhibition at the picture gallery of items from the royal collection relating to South Africa.

Ramaphosa will then travel to Westminster Abbey, a traditional part of all state visits, where the he will lay a wreath at the tomb of the unknown warrior.

“He will then be taken on a tour of the abbey, including relevant SA features,” he said.

Thereafter, he will head to the Palace of Westminster in parliament, where he will be welcomed by the Speaker of the House Commons Sir Lindsay Hoyle and the Lord Speaker, Lord McFall of Alcluith.

King Charles will then host a formal state banquet at Buckingham Palace.

Day 2

On Wednesday November 23, Ramaphosa will begin his day with the Earl of Wessex at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Kew, where he will engage in discussions around the scientific and conservation partnerships between the two countries.

This will be followed by a visit to the Francis Crick Institute, a biomedical research centre which works to understand the biology behind health and disease.

Phillipson said Ramaphosa will then travel to No 10 Downing Street for a bilateral meeting and lunch with prime minister Rishi Sunak. He said the meeting will largely be about the policy agenda between the two countries.

That afternoon Ramaphosa, accompanied by secretary of state for international trade Kemi Badenoch, will attend the UK-SA business forum at Lancaster House. The forum, said Phillipson, will among others focus on investment, infrastructure and innovation.

After that engagement, Ramaphosa will return to Buckingham Palace to formally bid farewell to King Charles and return to his hotel for a brief call with the leader of the opposition, Keir Starmer.

In the evening, joined by the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, he will attend a banquet at the Guildhall in the City of London. This will form the end of the state visit.


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