Still, whatever Blair's motivation, there is serious work to be done during his visit. As a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, the UK is an important partner for SA in developing a viable international response to the crises in the Congo and Angola. As to the arms and investment package: Blair and his spin doctors are not the investor, the UK private sector is. Any promises they make will have to be nailed down in detailed, wearying negotiations.
THE VISIT provides a good opportunity for the prime minister and his government to erase the painful past that has haunted Africans by getting involved in efforts to revive this continent. If Blair apologises for the 27,000 women and children who died in British concentration camps during the Anglo-Boer War, as demanded by the Herstigte Nasionale Party, he should go all the way and apologise to the rest of Africa for British slavery and colonisation. We also expect Blair to use his country's influence within the European Union to ensure that South African products gain access to those lucrative markets sooner rather than later.
THE VISIT of Tony Blair will be an opportunity to build on the new relationship with South Africa which began after the 1994 elections.The word "new" is important. Links between the two countries go back several centuries. In the past hundred years or so we have fought together several times - sometimes as adversaries, more recently as comrades. The fact that about 750,000 people living in South Africa have British passports and think of Britain as their second home is an important and valued connection. We need to look forwards not backwards.
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