Source: ED, Masisi get down to business | The Herald February 28, 2019
• 8 deals to be signed • Masisi hails reform agenda • . . . pledges economic support
Farirai Machivenyika and Tendai Mugabe
Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi arrived yesterday ahead of the inaugural session of the Bi-Nation Commission Summit between the two countries today.
He was welcomed at Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport by President Mnangagwa, Cabinet ministers, service chiefs, senior Government officials and ambassadors from Sadc countries accredited to Zimbabwe.
Eight agreements in various fields of mutual cooperation are expected to be signed as relations between the two sister Republics continue to flourish.
President Mnangagwa and his counterpart are expected to address the summit today after which agreements and Memorandums of Understanding will be signed.
Last night, President Mnangagwa hosted a banquet in honour of President Masisi at State House where the latter pledged to work with Harare to resolve its economic challenges.
He also reiterated the call for the West to lift sanctions on Zimbabwe, which is becoming a major talking point for Africa.
“Let me take this opportunity to reaffirm my Government’s commitment to work closely with you and your Government in addressing your country’s economic challenges,” he said.
“In this regard, we wish to add our voice in calling for the unconditional removal of sanctions on Zimbabwe. We recently made the same call as Sadc leaders and we all stand by that pronouncement. There is no doubt that the sanctions on Zimbabwe are a major stumbling block with serious deleterious effect on the country’s efforts towards full economic recovery.”
He also commended the elevation of bilateral relations between the two countries.
“It should be noted that the decision to elevate the bilateral cooperation mechanisms between our two countries to a BNC was informed by the importance that we attach to each other as neighbours and strategic partners. Essentially, this is reflective of our resolve to intensify our collective efforts towards creating opportunities for our people in order to improve their standards,” said President Masisi.
He added that the BNC provided an opportunity for regular engagements at all levels,
including for Heads of State of the two countries’ to monitor progress and direction of their cooperation.
“I wish to reiterate that Botswana considers Zimbabwe not only as a very important neighbour, but also an ally and strategic partner in our development efforts,” said President Masisi.
He commended President Mnangagwa for keeping its Sadc partners informed about developments in the country especially the recent disturbances instigated by the MDC Alliance and its allies.
“We are also encouraged by the reform agenda you have embarked upon to boost economic recovery, as well as your initiative for national dialogue.
“We hope this will not only serve as a catalyst for national reconciliation, but will also energise the people of Zimbabwe to work together for a common purpose, namely, their country’s political stability and economic recovery,” said President Masisi.
President Mnangagwa welcomed Botswana and Sadc’s support in the face of continued attempts to destabilise the country.
He also thanked the region and continent for the united stance against sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe, which weighed heavily against the country’s development efforts.
he also decried recent nefarious attempts by detractors, to destabilise our peace and our quest to improve the well-being of our people.
“In light of the various attacks against the peace loving people of our country; we are grateful for the support and valuable contribution of the SADC, the African Union and other progressive nations of the world towards Zimbabwe’s economic progress, peace and stability.
“May I equally take this opportunity to express my profound gratitude and appreciation to SADC for their recent statement, calling for the removal of the illegal sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by the EU and USA,” he said.
President Mnangagwa added that the visit by President Masisi was an opportunity to strengthen relations.
“Your visit is indeed a wonderful opportunity for us to strengthen the fraternity bonds that exist between our people,” he said.
“Thank you for coming. Thank you for standing with us and believing in the new Zimbabwe, real friends standby each other through thick and thin. The people of Botswana are more than friends. You are our brothers and sisters, with a shared culture, geography and common history.”
President Mnangagwa also thanked Botswana for its role, together with other Frontline States in liberating the country.
“Your visit further affords us the opportunity to reassess the progress in our quest towards developing, modernising and industrialising our two countries. I am therefore confident that we will take advantage of the unprecedented opportunity before us.
“Zimbabwe stands ready to work with Botswana embrace a new era of cooperation and common development for win-win outcomes for our trade, investment and people to people relations,” he said.
He commended the two countries’ decision to enhance their relations to a BNC
“It was also an acknowledgement that our bilateral relations have reached the stage where the issues involve required the attention of the highest levels of our government,” he said.
Earlier in the day, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Dr Sibusiso Moyo addressed a ministerial session of the BNC as they touched up for today’s high-level meeting.
He said Harare and Gaborone were committed to enhancing ties to ensure prosperity of the two countries.
“It is important that we meet in order to conclude issues discussed by our officials in preparation for the Heads of State Summit to be held tomorrow (today),” said Dr Moyo.
“The fact that our relations are experiencing a paradigm shift is a historical marker that should be harnessed and cherished. I am encouraged by the work that has gone in ensuring that the inaugural session has tangible deliverables through the implementation of decisions and commitments made last year.
“I am also pleased that eight agreements will be signed during the Heads of State Summit. The agreements which will be signed are evidence of our firm political commitment to concretise the long standing, historical and friendly ties between our two great countries.
He welcomed a decision by Air Botswana to increase flights into Harare.
“Let me further welcome the step by Air Botswana to actually open two direct weekly flights between Harare and Gaborone. This will surely facilitate the movement of our people between the two countries and thus facilitating tourism and business exchanges across our borders. This development on the transport and communication front will be complemented by our plan to establish a one stop border post at Plumtree-Ramokgwebana as well as at Kazungula. The economic integration of our two countries will undoubtedly reduce the imports that will be felt within the region and even beyond. As such, the establishment of these one stop border posts is a major project that we must urgently deliver on.”
Dr Moyo hailed a donation of medicines by the Botswana Government to Zimbabwe saying it would go a long way in addressing the needs of Zimbabwe’s health sector.
“It is evident that on the part of Zimbabwe and Botswana there is a will and drive to ensure that our two friendly countries achieve sustainable development and economic prosperity that will whilst commendable, will only deliver tangible results if we closely work together in addressing areas where progress has been lagging behind,” he said.
Botswana’s International Affairs and Cooperation Minister Unity Dow emphasised the need to consolidate ties.
“In Botswana we have Vision 2036 while Zimbabwe has Vision 2030. Our concerted efforts should be driving towards successfully championing the pillars and targets of our long terms visions. In addition, we belong to the same regional and continental bodies whose agendas are inter-linked with ours.”