Thursday, October 27, 2016

Zuma Expected in Harare for Trade Talks
October 27, 2016
Innocent Ruwende Senior Reporter
Zimbabwe Herald

South African President Mr Jacob Zuma is expected here next Thursday to attend the inaugural session of the Bi-National Commission where Zimbabwe and South Africa are set to discuss trade, investment, energy, tourism, water, health, regional and global developments. The Bi-National Commission would be jointly chaired by President Mugabe and Mr Zuma. President Zuma leads a delegation of eight Cabinet ministers and a number of agreements are expected to be signed at the conclusion of the meeting. The BNC was established on April 8 last year following the signing of an agreement by ministers of Foreign Affairs of the two countries during a State visit to South Africa by President Mugabe.

During the visit, three landmark agreements and two memoranda of understanding, which are expected to steer bilateral relations and development of the two neighbours to greater heights, were penned.

The BNC is a successor to the Joint Commission for Cooperation signed by Zimbabwe and South Africa on March 2, 1995 and it seeks ways and means of promoting and enhancing cooperation in the various sectors of Government and to coordinate initiatives in this regard as well as to facilitate contact between the public and private sectors of the two countries.

In a statement yesterday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the session to be held in Harare on November 3, would be preceded by a ministerial meeting on November 2 and a senior officials meeting from October 31 to November 1 this year.

“It is also expected that a number of agreements will be signed at the conclusion of the meeting. On October 21, 2016 the Political and Diplomacy Committee of the Zimbabwe – South Africa Bi-National Commission met in Harare.

“The committee emphasised the importance of political and diplomatic consultations as a forum to enhance bilateral cooperation and an effective mechanism to track progress on the implementation of decisions taken at the BNC and other consultations,” reads the statement.

During President Mugabe’s visit to South Africa last year the key agreement signed was on the establishment of the BNC, which Zimbabwe Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi and South Africa International Relations and Co-operation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane signed off.

The two ministers also signed a memorandum of understanding on Diplomatic Consultations; while Finance ministers Patrick Chinamasa and Nhlanhla Nene signed the agreement on Mutual Assistance Between Customs Administrations.

The agreement on Co-operation on Water Resources Management and establishment and functioning of the Joint Water pact were signed by the then Environment, Water and Climate Minister Saviour Kasukuwere and his South African counterpart. Industry and Trade Minister Mike Bimha and South Africa’s Rob Davies, signed an MoU on Economic and Trade Co-operation.

Presidents Mugabe and Zuma both hailed the agreements, MoUs and talks as notable milestones in the development of the two countries’ relations, expressing their desire to see these reflected in greater regional and continental integration for the betterment of citizens’ lives. President Mugabe said there was much the two countries could learn from each other. South Africa is Zimbabwe’s biggest trading partner in Africa.

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