ZIMBABWE and Botswana are scaling up cooperation in agriculture and mining with business people from both countries having already opened markets either way, the outgoing Botswana ambassador has said.
Following his courtesy call on President Mnangagwa yesterday Ambassador Lieutenant general (Retired) Louis Fisher said his country is targeting greater collaboration with Zimbabwe in mining and agriculture.
Lt-Gen Fisher, who has been in Zimbabwe since January 2017, said he has witnessed history in the country, including the birth of the Second Republic.
“My stay has been very wonderful. I have seen historic changes and I am grateful that as I leave, I leave collaboration between Zimbabwe and Botswana deepened and widened.”
“We have to now look to agriculture. Agriculture should now spearhead our development agenda. We have young people who do not have jobs. But we have the potential in agriculture to approach agriculture as a business, value addition, our children must make money in agriculture.
“They must use skills and technology on value addition and then this will move us towards our development agenda,” said Lt-Gen Fisher.
President Mnangagwa has already said the mining sector, together with agriculture, will form the backbone on which Zimbabwe will build Vision 2030 to become an upper middle income economy.
Government is on record saying that while the extractive sector and the primary produce is key, Zimbabwe will need to expedite its industrialisation in the quest to attain its goals.
The outgoing Batswana envoy said a Zimbabwean company recently beat competition from the region to supply material to a mining firm in Botswana, something that proves that quality products are manufactured in Zimbabwe.
“I was gratified to be invited last week to a company that has won a big tender to supply pipes in Botswana. That they were competing with other companies from the SADC region and they won, that says something on the quality of products from Zimbabwe.
“In terms of trade it means its shorter and quicker to sell goods in Botswana or to sell goods in Zimbabwe, so that alone is a boost to our economies,” said Lt-Gen Fisher. “If you look at the border we have between Zimbabwe and Botswana and the national anthem of Zimbabwe where it says ‘kubva Zambezi kusvika Limpopo’, that describes the closeness between Botswana and Zimbabwe.”
The two countries enjoy warm relations on the diplomatic front following the recent trade collaboration between agencies that front trade for either republic, which is aimed at unlocking opportunities for trade and industrial synergies.
Zimbabwe and Botswana have a bilateral trade agreement that was reviewed in 2010, which offers duty-free trade on goods that meet the rules of origin.
This means Zimbabwe has a comparative advantage in exporting fresh produce and fast moving consumer goods to Botswana since its manufacturing base is more developed.
Zimbabwe and Botswana have also been speaking with one voice calling for the removal of the ban on selling elephants and ivory abroad, Botswana has the largest population of elephants in the world followed by Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe is also struggling with an unsustainable elephant population of around 84 000 against a carrying capacity of around 50 000, the second largest population in the world after Botswana.
Botswana’s herd has also been affected by natural disasters, with an estimated 350 elephants dying between May and August this year.
Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi has also added his voice calling for the removal of illegal sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by the United States and its Western allies.