German chancellor Angela Merkel arrives in SA as right-wing populism surges in Germany

Inside Politics Reporter

President Cyril Ramaphosa says the two-day official working visit by German chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday will strengthen bilateral relationship between the two countries and yield greater trade and investment opportunities.

“Germany is an important partner of South Africa: politically, socially and economically,” said Ramaphosa.  

“Germany is our largest trading partner in Europe.”

Ramaphosa said in November last year German companies pledged nearly R11 billion in investments from mainly the automotive and manufacturing sectors.

“As the incoming Chair of the African Union, South Africa has prioritised the acceleration of economic development through the forging of private sector investment partnerships,” said Ramaphosa.

“These present investment opportunities for German companies.”

Merkel, one of the most powerful leaders in Europe, arrived in South Africa on Thursday amid rebellion at home after hard-right Alternative for Germany helped install a local politician as minister president, triggering nationwide demonstrations and political chaos in Berlin.

On Wednesday, Thomas Kemmerich of the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) beat incumbent Left party candidate Bodo Ramelow 45 to 44 to become Thuringia state premier, after gaining votes from the right-wing AfD, according to reports from Germany.

German media reported that Thuringia State Premier Thomas Kemmerich is due to resign after he won the local elections on Wednesday with the support of a right-wing party.

The media also claimed that Germany’s Free Democratic Party (FDP) is considering a motion to dissolve the regional assembly in Thuringia, a move that was initiated by Kemmerich.

Merkel slammed the Wednesday election of a Thuringia State Premier supported by the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) party as “unforgivable”.

Meanwhile, Merkel said Germany was prepared to assist South Africa with its electricity power crisis, with a focus on renewable energy and gas power plants.

“We would like to support you to extend and expand renewables. We also discussed using renewables in a sustainable way … and the replacement of old power plants,” said Merkel.

  • Additional reporting by international news agenices

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