Friday, 28 February 2020

ZIM,BOTS SIGN SEVEN BILATERAL AGREEMENTS


Zimbabwe and Botswana yesterday signed seven bilateral agreements covering housing, education and health, reaffirming their commitment to develop their economies.

The agreements were signed at the close of the Second Zimbabwe-Botswana Bi-National Commission (BNC).

Presidents Mnangagwa and Mokgweetsi Masisi presided over the closing session yesterday, after four days of intense engagements among top Government officials. 

Relevant Cabinet ministers from the two countries signed the seven bilateral instruments, which cover a range of socio-economic development issues, on behalf of their governments.

The agreements covered: mutual legal assistance in criminal matters; a memorandum of understanding on health matters; sport development; cooperation in the field of media information and publicity; provision of sustainable, affordable and functional low-cost housing; cooperation in technical, vocational education and training; and employment and labour.

The agreements add to the six bilateral instruments that were signed during the first session of the BNC in Harare last year.

In his remarks, President Mnangagwa said the high-level bilateral platform helped the two countries identify common challenges and new opportunities that should be addressed between now and the third session of the BNC next year. 

“I am pleased to note that this session has witnessed the signing of MoUs and agreements, which set the foundation for our broader cooperation in the identified areas,” he said.

“We must apply greater determination towards the full implementation of these agreements for the benefit of our two countries and peoples.

“There is no doubt that in working together and consistently, we can achieve much more. Let us introspect and ask ourselves whether we have exerted enough energy and shown adequate commitment to realise progress in our cooperation.”

President Mnangagwa said both leaders were keen to ensure the success of the bilateral engagements.

He urged officials at the technical level from both countries to demonstrate zeal, focus and a sense of urgency through speedy implementation of the agreed positions.

President Masisi reiterated his country’s support for Zimbabwe, including the call for the lifting of sanctions imposed on the country. 

He concurred with President Mnangagwa on the need to ensure the swift implementation of agreements and decisions throughout the year, as opposed to waking up a few weeks before the convening of the next BNC.

This year’s BNC saw the two leaders exchanging views on regional, continental and international issues of mutual interest and concern.

In a joint communiqué issued at the end of the BNC, the two leaders reaffirmed the significance of the BNC as a bilateral instrument to give strategic direction to the growing ties between Zimbabwe and Botswana.

They renewed their commitment towards the speedy conclusion of joint regional projects such as the Points Techobanine Heavy Haul Railway Line, which is a vital trade corridor envisaged to contribute towards greater regional integration.

They emphasised the need to speed up the completion of joint infrastructure projects, increased synergies on clean energy generation, environmental cooperation and unlocking earnings from their rich wildlife resources.

Botswana and Zimbabwe have set aside substantial areas for wildlife conservation and have coordinated joint programmes such as the convening of the Elephant Summit in Kasane in May last year and the Africa Wildlife Economy Summit in Victoria Falls in June.

“This collaboration is expected to facilitate the contribution of the wildlife estate towards sustainable economic and ecological benefits for the local communities, and Africa as a whole,” reads the communiqué.

The BNC underscored the need for increased private sector collaboration as a key element in the implementation of economic decisions. 

In this regard, a business forum was held on Wednesday focusing on manufacturing, textiles and clothing, and services such as finance and insurance.

Botswana and Zimbabwe committed themselves to working closely towards the attainment of the regional integration agenda, in particular the SADC industrialisation agenda.

The two Heads of State expressed concern over the outbreak of Covid-19 in China and the serious health risks it poses to humanity.  They expressed solidarity with the government of China and commended its efforts in dealing with the pandemic.

Meanwhile, President Mnangagwa returned home yesterday afternoon. He was welcomed at Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport by his two Vice Presidents Constantino Chiwenga and Kembo Mohadi.

Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Minister Professor Amon Murwira, Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Dr Misheck Sibanda, service chiefs and other senior Government officials were also present at the airport.

The President underwent coronavirus screening at the airport, and got to see a brief demonstration of the COVID-19 surveillance equipment sourced by Mimosa Mine. Herald

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