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CUOMO SAYS HIS TRIP STRENGTHENS U.S.-SOUTH AFRICA TIES AND WILL HELP IMPROVE HOUSING AND CREATE JOBS
U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo said today that his three-day visit to South Africa this week helped strengthen ties between the two nations and will help improve housing conditions, increase homeownership and create jobs in South Africa.
Cuomo met with South African Deputy President Thabo Mbeki, South African Housing Minister Sankie Mthembi-Mahanyele, business leaders, students and other South Africans in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Soweto and Cape Town during his visit.
In addition, Cuomo toured Robben Island - where now-President Nelson Mandela and other freedom fighters were imprisoned during white minority rule - with former prisoner Sithiwo Sobuwa. Cuomo also laid a wreath at a memorial to black South Africans killed in Soweto during the struggle to end the white-supremacist policy of apartheid.
"In overturning apartheid, the people of South Africa won a historic victory against racism and oppression, and for equality and freedom," Cuomo said. "We salute them for this victory, and we look forward to strengthening the partnership between our nations to help South Africans build a better future for themselves and their children."
Cuomo announced agreements during the visit to jointly develop innovative programs to make more home mortgages available in low-income communities so more South Africans can become homeowners, to develop laws and regulations against discriminatory lending to homebuyers, and to share information on housing and economic development.
The HUD Secretary said that the U.S. government's South Africa Housing Guarantee Program will provide an additional $25 million guarantee of loans for mortgages and home improvements in low-income communities in South Africa. The program recently announced nearly $50 million in borrowing for infrastructure in low-income communities.
The visit by Cuomo to South Africa is a follow-up to last February's meeting between Vice President Al Gore and Deputy President Mbeki at the Fifth Plenary Session of the U.S.-South Africa Bi-National Commission, held in Cape Town. The Commission was created in 1994 to revitalize the relationship between the United States and South Africa.
Mthembi-Mahanyele and Cuomo, who co-chair the Housing Committee of the Commission, presided over the first meeting of the Housing Committee this week.
Content Archived: January 20, 2009