Sunday, November 06, 2016

Zimbabwe and South Africa: Working Together for a Better World
Zimbabwe Sunday Mail

Last week Zimbabwe hosted the First Session of the Bi-National Commission with South Africa. Below are the opening remarks by South Africa’s Minister of International Relations and Co-operation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane.

Hon Maite Nkoana-Mashabane:

My dear comrade, your warm and kind words of welcome have made us feel at home in this beautiful country, Zimbabwe.

It is absolutely important to reaffirm that Zimbabwe is a second home to many South Africans.

Allow me to convey our profound gratitude for the legendary hospitality which your Government has accorded to our delegation. We also thank you for availing majestic facilities to our meeting.

Our two countries and people share the same history, geography and culture.

We speak the same languages and share the same dreams, the dreams of an independent, united and prosperous neighbourhood.

This is what informs our relations. We speak of relations of a special kind.

These are the relations that were forged during the difficult period, the period when we were fighting against colonialism and apartheid.

Informed and guided by this rich history, our two countries have made concerted efforts over the years to ensure that these historical relations are transformed into mutual co-operation that covers political and socio-economic spheres.

It bears noting that as early as 1995 our two countries established a Joint Commission for Co-operation which was a mechanism designed to promote political, economic and social cooperation between the two sister republics.

This Joint Commission facilitated a process wherein our two countries were able over the years to sign 38 agreements and memoranda of understanding.

These agreements and memoranda of understanding cover a wide range of areas, including transport, tourism, trade and investment, immigration, health, science, labour, taxation, just to mention but a few.

The existence of this large number of legal instruments signifies the depth of the sectorial cooperation between our two nations.

It was in April 2015 during the State Visit to South Africa of His Excellency, President Robert Mugabe, that our two countries took a definitive step to elevate our bilateral cooperation to the level of Heads of States through the signing on an agreement establishing a Bi-national Commission.

The BNC is the highest form of a structured bilateral mechanism whereby our two countries will meet annually at the level of Heads of State.

Principally, the BNC provides the required impetus to help us forge a closer strategic cooperation and partnership.

We are excited, therefore, that we meet here this morning on the occasion of the 1st Session of our important BNC.

As we launch our BNC, it will be essential to identify the key areas of our co-operation.

Key among those should be the promotion of a mutually beneficial economic co-operation not only for our respective countries but also for regional integration.

Infrastructure development to facilitate ease movement of goods and services cannot be overstated.
In this regard, we need to pay a particular focus on the One-Stop Border Post at Beitbridge.

We trust that we will utilise this session to explore new areas of co-operation and most importantly to further enhance existing ones.

As we meet here today we also are mindful of the current regional, continental, and global challenges.

Our economies are currently under pressure due to global commodity prices, fluctuating currencies, shrinking GDP growth, including natural disasters such as the El Nino drought phenomenon.

We, therefore, need to work together to alleviate the negative impact of these challenges.
On the issues of peace and security in the region and the continent, we need to continue to work to play our part towards resolving these.

I hope the report of our senior officials who have been meeting for the past two days will begin to chart a clear path as we launch our strategic BNC.

Let me conclude by thanking you once more for your kind welcome. I thank you.

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