SA, Zim foreign ministers to strengthen cooperation

Monday, March 16, 2009

Zimbabwe - South African Foreign Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma is currently in Zimbabwe to discuss the humanitarian situation in that country and how the two countries can strengthen cooperation.

On Monday, the minister and Zimbabwean Foreign Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi will chair the SA-Zimbabwe Joint Permanent Commission for Co-operation (JPCC).

Foreign Affairs spokesperson Nomfanelo Kota said the minister was already locked in a meeting with senior officials and that a plenary session was expected to start later in the morning.

Trade and Industry Minister Mandisi Mpahlwa, Home Affairs Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, Minister of Agriculture Lulu Xingwana and Health Minister Barbara Hogan are also participating in the meeting, as well as Director General in the Department of Foreign Affairs Ayanda Ntsaluba.

South Africa's participation in the third session of the JPCC forms part of South Africa's commitment to consolidating relations between both countries.

The ministerial session is expected to review existing bilateral political, economic and trade relations between the two countries as well as social and humanitarian matters, including co-operation in the health field, public service administration; labour and arts and culture.

The ministers will also discuss migration matters. Thousands of Zimbabweans have entered and continue to cross into South Africa, seeking job opportunities.

Preparations for the forthcoming Confederations Cup and the FIFA 2010 World Cup, trade, finance and investment, energy and mining, environment and tourism and agriculture are some of the other topics which will come under the spotlight.

According to the Department of Foreign Affairs, South Africa's participation comes within the context of assisting the people of Zimbabwe in their path towards national reconciliation, reconstruction and development as well as economic recovery.

Last month, Southern African Development Community (SADC) finance ministers agreed to help Zimbabwe recover from its economic and humanitarian situation.

At the close of the SADC Council of Ministers conference in Cape Town, Ms Dlamini Zuma said the body was considering investing $2 billion into the country's reconstruction.

Bilateral relations between South Africa and Zimbabwe remain cordial and South Africa's assistance to Zimbabwe is furthermore informed by its broader vision of the Southern African Development Community's (SADC) economic integration programme.

Zimbabwe remains a major trading partner with South Africa. In 2007, exports to Zimbabwe totaled R8 million, while imports were at over R 6 million.

"The meeting will wrap up this afternoon with the minister making her way back to South Africa this evening," said Ms Kota.