President Uhuru Kenyatta will use his tour of South Africa to establish contacts with the imminent new leadership in Africa’s largest economy, as well as pursue pending agreements with Pretoria.
Officially, the President has been invited to attend the 106th Anniversary celebrations of the African National Congress (ANC) in Eastern Cape on Saturday.
But diplomatic sources reckon he has his sight on the new ANC leadership with the end of President Jacob Zuma’s tenure.
“The President is using the visit to renew friendship with the new leadership of the ANC party. This is strategic, especially since South Africa are our partners and they have elections coming up next year,” said a senior diplomat who sought anonymity a few hours before the President left Nairobi.
Mr Kenyatta took off at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport a few minutes to noon accompanied by Foreign Affairs secretary Amina Mohamed and Trade principal secretary Chris Kiptoo, among other government officials.
Apart from meeting Mr Zuma, Mr Kenyatta will also meet Deputy President Cyril Rampahosa, State House said.
Mr Ramaphosa took over the reins of ANC from Mr Zuma late last month and will carry the party’s flag in the upcoming presidential elections.
State House said top on Mr Kenyatta’s agenda would be an attempt to bridge the balance of trade tilted in favour of South Africa.
South Africa bought goods worth Sh2 billion from Kenya and sold us Sh50 billion products last year.
“There are pending business issues which have been under discussion for a while. The government feels it is unfair for South Africa to impose so many high tariffs and damaging levies on goods we sell them,” the official said, citing horticulture goods such as avocados, which must meet certain hygienic conditions Nairobi sees as punitive.