SA, Zimbabwe seek greater implementation of agreements

Monday, October 2, 2017

With South Africa and Zimbabwe’s bilateral, economic and social relations solidifying each year, the neighbouring countries have expressed a need for the urgent implementation of the agreements and MoUs to better the lives of ordinary citizens.

Underpinned by strong historical ties dating back many years, the two SADC countries have already signed more than 40 MoUs and agreements. These cover a broad range of areas, including trade and investment, immigration, defence, transport, agriculture, environment, energy, health, labour, water management, taxation, as well as arts and culture.

South Africa and Zimbabwe are set to sign several other agreements on labour, employment and health when the Heads of State meet in Tshwane on Tuesday.

“As we sign these agreements, we keep our focus squarely on implementation because [it] facilitates these objectives,” South African International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said on Monday.

The Minister said the objectives should be to “change livelihoods, develop our youth, ensure the equal participation of women in our economies, create jobs and put food on the table”.

In order to achieve this, Minister Nkoana-Mashabane proposed that leaders must engage more effectively in co-operation projects in the fields of agriculture, mining, infrastructure development, defence and security, economy and finance, trade and investments as well as social and humanitarian affairs to raise bilateral relations to new levels.

These will further push up bilateral trade, which stood at about R29.3 billion last year.

Minister Nkoana-Mashabane said projects should be seen through with action plans and activities that are sustainable, achievable, realistic and time-bound to enable the two countries monitor and assess progress on a regular basis.

“Our joint efforts will be rewarded in bringing forth radical economic transformation, which will translate into better lives for all in our two countries,” the Minister said.

She was speaking at the opening of the ministerial session of the South Africa-Zimbabwe Bi-National Commission. The session, which Minister Nkoana-Mashabane, co-chaired with her Zimbabwean counterpart, Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, is a precursor to Tuesday’s Heads of State session by President Jacob Zuma and President Robert Mugabe.

These meetings are an opportunity for the two countries to review the state of their bilateral relationship.

Minister Nkoana-Mashabane said this BNC provides them with an opportunity to review and strengthen the historic bond which was solidified during the liberation struggle.

However, the struggle waged today is not for political liberation but it is a battle against the triple challenge of poverty, inequality and unemployment.

“South Africa is determined to continue to expand efforts towards ensuring socio-economic development, joint prosperity and the mutual benefit of our people and in this regard. Our partnership can contribute towards this noble goal if we work together with single-mindedness,” said Minister Nkoana-Mashabane.

Bolstering cooperation

The agreement establishing the BNC was signed in April 2015 and inaugurated in October 2016 in Harare, Zimbabwe. It stipulates that the BNC should meet on an annual and rotational basis.

Since its establishment, interaction between South Africa and Zimbabwe has increased. In August, the two sides held a mid-term review.

Zimbabwe’s Minister Mumbengegwi said the fact that the people of South Africa and his country share expansive and deep-rooted relations bestows a huge responsibility on the two governments. He called for the urgent conclusion of issues which have been on the agenda between the two sides.

South Africa and Zimbabwe have been in talks over the establishment of a one-stop border post at the Beitbridge Musina entry point, which is one of the busiest border posts in southern Africa.

“Our two countries stand to benefit immensely from the smooth movement of people and goods through the Beitbridge Musina border post. A one-stop border post at [one of] the busiest border posts on the African continent will bring a harmonised processes, improved infrastructure and smiles to many of our compatriots,” said Minister Mumbengegwi.

The Heads of State session kicks off in Tshwane tomorrow. The South African delegation that will support President Zuma at the BNC will include Minister Nkoana-Mashabane; Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula; Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies; Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant; Home Affairs Minister Hlengiwe Mkhize and Minister of Transport Joseph Maswanganyi. –

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