Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter
The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) yesterday pledged to support Zimbabwe in overcoming prevailing challenges and position the country as an industrial hub of the continent through enhanced trade.
Comesa secretary-general, Mrs Chileshe Mpundu Kapwepwe said the bloc would also support all efforts aimed at ensuring that illegal sanctions imposed by the West are removed so that Harare plays an enhanced role in the continent.
Mrs Kapwepwe, who recently came into office, said this in an interview with journalists soon after paying a courtesy call at President Mnangagwa at his Munhumutapa Offices.
She said they were excited that Zimbabwe had ratified the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement, as it meant that Harare was behind efforts by the bloc to foster regional integration.
“The major outcome of the meeting we had with the President is the continued support by Zimbabwe to Comesa in regional integration programmes. As you know, Zimbabwe has already ratified the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement, which means in principle, they are supportive of initiatives which bring our countries to trade with each other at continental level and also at regional level which is in line with Comesa objectives.
“We want to support the growth of industry so that Zimbabwe is positioned to trade with the rest of the continent as well as the rest of the world,” said Mrs Kapwepwe.
She said her visit to Zimbabwe was aimed at exploring ways to harmonise several developmental efforts that the bloc was pursuing.
On sanctions, Mrs Kapwepwe said Zimbabwe had made several efforts that include re-engagement and Comesa would continue lending its support to Harare.
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Dr Sibusiso Moyo said the meeting with Mrs Kapwepwe was positive in ensuring that Comesa achieved its objectives.
“This is an excellent way to welcome the Comesa secretary-general as she takes office, a very important organisation for Zimbabwe in particular. We are looking at ratifying the Tripartite Treaty which integrates the three regions.
“Zimbabwe has a dual membership, so it clears all the hurdles which may be in existence when we actually join and ratify the agreement. In fact, if we strengthen the Tripartite Treaty, it would be easier to implement the rest of the African Continental Free Trade Areas, so we really applaud this moment,” said Minister Moyo.