March 19, 2019

Swiss diplomacy chief begins Africa tour of Zambia, Zimbabwe and SA

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Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis has landed in Zambia, the first stop of his five-day trip to Africa. The programme also includes visits to Zimbabwe and South Africa.

The trip began today with a visit to the Mopani Copper Mine in Zambia, whose majority shareholder is Swiss-based multinational Glencore.

The head of Swiss diplomacy wanted to see for himself the working and employment conditions in this sector, which is responsible for 15.4% of the country’s GDP, according to foreign ministry figures.

On Twitter, Cassis said he was impressed by the efforts to modernise the plant and to train young people.

In November, the Swiss governments published human rights guidelines for firms operating in the commodity sector. Separately, it issued a report looking at the the ongoing challenges and emerging trends in this sector of strategic importance for Switzerland.

Glencore, the world’s biggest mining company with headquarters in the Swiss canton of Zug, comes under regular criticism from Swiss watchdog groups over environmental and human rights issues linked to copper and cobalt mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The focus of the trip is strengthening political and economic relations with the three southern African countries, according to the foreign ministry.

During his stay in the African continent, Cassis will visit projects supported by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), particularly in the field of HIV/Aids prevention and treatment. — Swiss Info

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