Prosper Ndlovu in MAUN, Botswana
Zimbabwe and Botswana are poised to sign seven agreements and memorandums of understanding (MoUs) today when Presidents Mnangagwa and Mokgweetsi Masisi meet to mark the climax of the four-day Second Zimbabwe-Botswana Bi-National Commission.
President Mnangagwa, who arrived here yesterday, will today witness the signing of the agreements and MoUs that will further strengthen relations between the two countries.
The President and his delegation was welcomed at Maun International Airport by Dr Masisi, his International Affairs and Cooperation Minister Dr Unity Dow, Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to Botswana Henry Mukonoweshuro and Foreign Affairs and International Trade Secretary Dr James Manzou.
Today, the two leaders are expected to meet before official proceedings scheduled for this morning.
They will co-chair today’s session and deliver their remarks before the release of a communiqué, which will mark the end of the commission.
President Mnangagwa was accompanied by Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube; Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa; Health and Child Care Minister Dr Obadiah Moyo; and Deputy Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet in Charge of Presidential Communications Mr George Charamba.
Six ministers and other senior Government officials were here since Tuesday for preliminary talks with their Motswana counterparts.
The ministers include Dr Sibusiso Moyo (Foreign Affairs and International Trade), Dr Sekesai Nzenza (Industry and Commerce), Cde Oppah Muchinguri (Defence and War Veterans Affairs), Cde Kazembe Kazembe (Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage), Cde Mangaliso Ndlovu (Environment and Tourism) and Cde Winston Chitando (Mines and Mining Development).
On arrival, President Mnangagwa held a closed meeting with his ministers for almost two hours in preparation for today’s engagements.
Relations between Zimbabwe and Botswana improved in the Second Republic led by President Mnangagwa, whose engagement and re-engagement drive continues to impact positively on economic transformation.
Since the inaugural session of the BNC in Harare in February last year, there have been several meetings between Zimbabwean and Motswana officials in pursuance of the common objectives under the upgraded relations.
Dr Dow yesterday said a lot of progress has been recorded since last year’s engagements.
“The status of MoUs and agreements between the two countries currently stands at 39, and 13 of these have been signed, with six MoUs signed during the inaugural session of the BNC in February 2019, in Harare.
“Twenty-seven (MoUs and agreements) are still pending, out of which I am happy to note that the seven are ready for signature during this session,” she told delegates to a ministerial session held yesterday.
Dr Moyo, who co-chaired the indaba with Dr Dow, concurred and commended senior officials from the two countries for working hard to lay the foundation for monitoring and implementation of the agreements and decisions.
“I am pleased to note that 13 agreements and MoUs in various fields currently exist between our two countries, with the latest signed being the MoU on combating corruption,” he said.
“Furthermore, I am informed that several agreements and MoUs are ready for signing during this BNC Session, thereby signalling an expansion of cooperation between our sister countries.”
The decision by Presidents Mnangagwa and Masisi to elevate bilateral engagements to a Bi-National Commission was in recognition of the rising scope and scale of cooperation in the different sectors of the two countries’ economies.
Cooperation between Zimbabwe and Botswana covers a wide range of areas including agriculture, energy, health, defence, security, education, culture, tourism, environment, immigration, mining, science and technology, transport, trade and industry as well as sports and recreation.
Dr Moyo said senior officials’ review meetings in-between BNC sessions were critical because they laid the building blocks for the next BNC session.
“We, therefore, expect reports on progress, not excuses for inaction,” he said.
“We also anticipate that the senior officials will introduce new ideas that breathe life into our relationship instead of being hamstrung by issues from the previous session.”
Dr Moyo said the signing of the agreements was not an end, but should pave way for bolstering bilateral cooperation and the transformation of the two economies.
“It is only through diligent implementation of these instruments that we will be able to deliver a better life to our peoples, who after all, are the centrepiece of our bilateral relationship,” he said.
Dr Dow stressed the need for review meetings on implementation to yield responsive approaches to the needs of the citizens.
There was also need to find solutions to challenges that hinder implementation in areas where progress is lagging, he said.
Dr Moyo said Zimbabwe and Botswana were set to sign an MoU on cooperation in health matters given that the meeting comes against the backdrop of another potential global pandemic, COVID-19, which is caused by a new coronavirus.
The pandemic has since been declared a public health emergency of international concern by the World Health Organisation.
“The rapid spread of this virus has demonstrated once again our vulnerability to the negative aspects of globalisation,” he said.
“It is, therefore, fortuitous that we have decided to cooperate in health matters and certainly in that regard our officials should jointly identify robust methods of combating and curbing the spread of communicable diseases.”