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article imageMichelle Obama arrives in South Africa, hopes to strengthen ties

By Christopher Szabo     Jun 20, 2011 in World
Pretoria - US First Lady Michelle Obama arrives in South Africa Monday evening on the first leg of her two-nation Southern Africa visit. Obama is expected to concentrate on youth issues, something very current in the country.
The Business Day newspaper reports her visit came just as the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) ended its elective meeting. The meeting re-elected Julius Malema on an extreme left-wing platform that is little different from Communist practice.
The ANCYL has called for nationalisation of mines, land and the banking sector without compensation. This would affect foreign investment in the country and farmers and civic society groups have expressed grave misgivings about the Zimbabwean-inspired programme.
Obama’s visit could be timed to counter the Socialist and anti-American sentiment of the ANCYL, in which strong support was also expressed for Libya’s dictator Muammar Gaddafi and Zimbabwean strongman, Robert Mugabe.
The US Embassy, quoted by South African government agency BuaNews, said:
"This visit to two critical countries will underscore that the United States has an important stake in the success of Africa's many nations and underscore the historic connections between the American people and those who live on the African continent. South Africa is a vital global partner for the United States, as political leader and economic engine on the continent, and a historic example of democratic transition in Africa and around the world."
Obama is travelling with her mother, Marian Robinson, and her daughters, Malia and Sasha and visits South Africa and neighbouring Botswana, a very large country, which has a small population.
An AFP report says Obama visit is aimed at “highlighting democracy on the African continent”. Both South Africa and Botswana, the second country the US First Lady will visit on her six-day trip, are democracies, with Botswana having a long democratic tradition, having avoided the African “One man, one vote, once” syndrome, being a democracy since independence in 1966 while South Africa has been a democracy since 1994.
Obama is to hold a media conference in Pretoria Monday evening.
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