South Africa and Zimbabwe cement economic ties
4 November 2016
Pretoria – South Africa and Zimbabwe have reaffirmed their commitment to strengthen cooperation across numerous fields, particularly trade, investment and finance.
The neighbouring countries held their inaugural Bi-National Commission (BNC) Summit in Harare on Thursday. The BNC was co-chaired by President Jacob Zuma and Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe. The BNC was preceded by a high-level ministerial meeting on 2 November and a senior officials’ meeting from 31 October to 01 November.
A joint communique issued at the end of the BNC showed that since its inception in 2015, the BNC has made considerable progress in strengthening bilateral cooperation in sectors such as trade, investment, finance, health, labour, education, training, women and gender, sport and recreation, mining, tourism, energy, transport, infrastructure development, information communication technology, science and technology, tourism, immigration, defence and security.
“The two Heads of State expressed satisfaction with the strong historical and fraternal relations existing between the two countries and reiterated their commitment to continue to enhance these relations. They also reviewed a wide range of regional and international issues.
“… The BNC also expressed satisfaction with the excellent cooperation in defence and security, and encouraged the respective agencies to continue to collaborate on issues of mutual concern,” read the communique.
The Presidents noted the growing economic cooperation between the two countries, and agreed to establish a Joint Trade and Investment Committee by the end of the first quarter of 2017.
They placed emphasis on the importance of business-to-business interaction and the promotion of public-private partnerships (PPPs) and joint ventures.
The two Heads of State discussed the implementation of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Protocol on Trade and the Bilateral Trade Agreement between Zimbabwe and South Africa, including various statutory instruments adopted by Zimbabwe related to import control management.
To date, South Africa and Zimbabwe have signed 38 agreements and memoranda of understanding. President Zuma and President Mugabe urged the various departments to implement as a matter of urgency these instruments.
During the BNC, a Bilateral Air Service Agreement was also signed.
President Zuma said the BNC must be used to further the development goals of both countries.
“Our business communities stand ready to play their part, if as governments we create a conducive environment for ease of doing business, including but not limited to, the establishment of a one-stop border post for facilitation of free movement of people, goods and services, policy certainty, among others.”
Beitbridge-Musina One-Stop Border Post
The BNC stressed the urgent need for the establishment of a One-Stop Border Post (OSBP) at Beitbridge-Musina, as decided by the Joint Permanent Commission at Victoria Falls in 2009.
“To that end, the commission decided to finalise the modalities for its establishment by the time of the next BNC in 2017,” said the communique.
Drought, wildlife matters
The BNC noted that illegal trade in ivory and other wildlife products remains a concern for both countries. The two countries agreed to further collaborate in finding solutions to the illegal wildlife trade challenges including through joint law enforcement operations.
The two Heads of State took note of the effects of the El Nino-induced drought in the region. They stressed the importance of adopting appropriate mitigation measures to deal with not only the environmental impact, but the socio-economic impact thereof.
The two Heads of State called for further progress in the implementation of the SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap.
“In this context, they looked forward to the adoption of the Costed Action Plan for the implementation of the Strategy and Roadmap at the forthcoming SADC Extraordinary Summit to be held in March 2017,” the communique read.
Peace and security
The two Heads of State also exchanged views on the political and security developments in the region. They reaffirmed the need to sustain peace and stability for the economic growth and integration of the region.
They condemned the upsurge of terrorism and extremism in some regions of the continent and they called for enhanced cooperation by AU Member States and other stakeholders in combating the scourge.
The two Heads of State expressed concern over the migration crisis affecting certain parts of the African continent and called for the humane treatment of migrants.
With regards to the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic, the Heads of State reiterated their support for the right to self-determination of the Saharawi people. They emphasised the need for Africa to speak with the same voice on this matter to highlight the plight of the Saharawi people.
The two Heads of State noted Morocco's application to join the AU and welcomed the statement by the AU Commission chairperson highlighting the procedures for membership.