Sunday, November 06, 2016

Zimbabwe Foreign Minister on South African Relations: ‘We Will Walk the Talk’
Zimbabwe Sunday Mail

The following is the address by Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi at the Zimbabwe-South Africa Bi-National Commission last week

Hon Simbarashe Mumbengegwi:

I am honoured to welcome you, my dear sister (South Africa Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Ms Maite Nkoana –Mashabane), colleagues, and your entire delegation to this inaugural session of the Zimbabwe –South Africa Bi-National Commission.

I hope you will find the facilities we have put at your disposal satisfactory.

We are meeting today (last Wednesday) in order to prepare for the very important meeting of our leaders tomorrow (last Thursday).

Ever since we signed the agreement to establish the Bi-National Commission in the presence of our two Head of States in Pretoria on 8 April 2015, we have looked forward to today’s and tomorrow’s meetings as the beginnings of a new chapter in the long history of relations between our two sister Republics, relations that are nurtured by our kinship and contiguity.

Our relations have evolved and developed over centuries through blood and cultural ties, and common struggles for dignity, emancipation and independence.

It was natural and inevitable that our leaders decided to take these very close relations a notch higher, to the level of strategic partners.

This decision demands and expects much from us to ensure that reality on the ground corresponds to our aspirations and expectations.

Delivering concrete results for the benefit of our people and countries from this relationship is the major responsibility thrust upon us by our leaders and by history.

A good and appropriate place to start is to ensure the full implementation of all the agreements that we have signed between our two countries.

We can no longer be content with the state of affairs where, in many cases, we did not walk the talk.

We thus expect in our meeting to get reports on the implementation of our agreements as well as proposal for new areas of cooperation.

Our relationship is multifaceted, vibrant, dynamic and evolving.

However, this does not mean we will not experience some bumps and humps along the way much as we may strenuously try to avoid or minimise them.

Nevertheless, with goodwill and determination, I have no doubt that at the end we will find common ground, based on our mutual interests.

It is in this regard that I would like to note and encourage the ongoing discussions between our two countries on the various areas of our cooperation.

Dear colleagues, it is self-evident that a de-industrialising Zimbabwe is not an attractive and viable partner for South Africa, or indeed for any other country.

A de-industrialising Zimbabwe also eliminates the country from fully partaking in and contributing to the Sadc Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap, which aims to ensure that member states harness the full potential of their vast and diverse natural resources through value addition and beneficiation.

Such a loss would have a negative impact beyond our own national borders.
Instead, in the spirit of the strategic partnership between us, I urge our two countries entrepreneurs and investors to exploit the opportunities that exist for joint ventures.

These cross border linkages and partnership have the potential to create entrepreneurs who can effectively compete regionally and even globally.

I wish to observe that our two countries have identified and are engaged in many arrears of cooperation.

This is to be expected given the very wide range of issues that commonly affect us as neighbours.

It is also important that we should choose to expend more energy and resources on those areas where there is mutual interest by our countries and people.

Clearly, we must strengthen our political ties and pursue balanced and mutually beneficial economic relations between us.

Let us together agree on the best ingredients to achieving these objectives.

In that vein, I consider joint efforts and projects in infrastructural development, in maintenance of peace and security, in trade and investment and in people to people contacts as among the key contributors to our partnership.

In Article 2 of the BNC agreement, the purpose of the BNC is stated as “to seek ways and means of promoting and enhancing co-operation in the various sectors of the Government and to co-ordinate initiatives in this regard as well as to facilitate contact between the public and private sectors of the parties”.

It is, therefore, encouraging to note that pursuant to the signing of the BNC agreement, we agree to establish four sectoral committees to ensure the effective implementation of the agreement.

These sectoral committees have been meeting during the intervening period to prepare the ground for this Inaugural Bi-National Commission Session under the Political and Diplomatic Sectoral Committee.

The two sides discussed bilateral, regional, continental and global issues of mutual interest.

This has set the stage for us to reaffirm our support and solidarity with Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic in their quest for self-determination and national sovereignty as a full and unqualified member of the African Union.

The founding principles of the African Union must be respected by all member states including those who may aspire to become members of our Union.

These are explicitly spelt out in the founding document, the AU Constitutive Act.

On global issues, the AU common position on the reform of the United Nations Security Council is clearly spelt out in the Ezulwini Consensus and the Sirte Declaration.

We are glad that the recent AU summit held in Kigali, Rwanda unanimously reaffirmed this position.

The other sectoral committees have also been meeting and the issues raised in the bilateral meetings are clearly reflected in our agenda.

These relate to issues in the transport, energy and water, health, science, technology and innovation, public services, labour and social welfare as well as the security sectors.

We, therefore, look forward to finalising agreements in some of these sectors for signing during this inaugural session of the Bi-National Commission.

We have a number of agreements and MOUs which are still being negotiated and nearing completion.

It is our hope that this session of the BNC will set time frames for their completion before the next session of the BNC in 2017

With these few remarks, allow me to declare this Ministerial Segment of the inaugural Bi-National Commission officially open.

I thank you.

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