Zim-SA agree on mega deals


From Kuda Bwititi in Pretoria
Zimbabwe and South Africa yesterday agreed to immediately start measures to operationalise the Beitbridge One Stop Border Post (OSBP) while the two countries also signed five agreements of cooperation as relations between the neighbours reached new heights.

As part of the firm undertaking to operationalise the OSBP, President Mugabe and President Jacob Zuma directed their Ministers and officials to fast track operalisation of the OSBP and immediately appoint a Joint Technical Committee to develop the necessary legal framework for the project.

The two countries also agreed that the Beitbridge Border Post has become the busiest port of entry on the continent and as such urgent measures needed to be taken to facilitate smooth flow of business at the border for the benefit of both countries.

Under the five agreements, areas of cooperation were approved for cross border trading cooperation, energy, environment, Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and Sports and Recreation.

This is expected to enhance economic emancipation for people on both sides of the Limpopo.

Foreign Affairs Minister Mr Simbarashe Mumbengegwi signed all the five deals on Zimbabwe’s behalf while South Africa Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services Mr Siyabonga Cwele signed two agreements on cooperation in the cross border spectrum as well as a Memorandum of Understanding on ICTs.

Other South African Ministers, Edna Molewa (Water and Environmental Affairs), Thulasi Nxesi (Sports and Recreation) and Ms Mmamoloko Kubayi (Energy) signed the agreements on their country’s behalf.

In his speech at the BNC, President Mugabe said he was pleased that the two countries had chosen to engage in dialogue through the BNC forum in order to transform their economies.

“We meet today in that common spirit. Ever since we met at the inaugural session of our Bi National Commission, much has been done to bring to fruition the decisions we took on that occasion. However more still needs to be done to reinforce the foundations of our strategic partnership.

“This strategic partnership is the instrument for achieving the profound transformation of our countries economies. Let us join hands and promote cross border investments, facilitate joint ventures and other linkages between the public and private entities of our countries.”

President Mugabe lauded the progress made since last year’s inaugural BNC which was held in Harare, saying the forum BNC has yielded positive results for both countries.

“Since last year’s Joint Commission, we have embarked on reforms aimed at facilitating the Ease of Doing Business, which should improve the local business environment, as well as stimulate investment flows. I also announced Government’s legislative proposals aimed at reinforcing and further expanding the economic reforms we are undertaking. These proposals, once passed into law, will reduce delays in the registration of new businesses.

Legislation should also provide the legal underpinning to the One Stop Shop Investment Centre, and open new investment opportunities in infrastructure, especially that of airports.”

President Mugabe implored Ministers from both countries not to make the BNC a one-off encounter but use the platform to the fullest through constant engagement.

“The Bi-National Commission is not a once-a-year scheduled encounter, such as the one we are having today. It is and should be a constantly active forum for engagement and consultation, one always ready and available for our joint use.”

In his remarks, President Zuma said the OSBP would reduce delays and other challenges at the border. “This border post is the busiest border post on the continent. Much of our goods and services go through it. We cannot afford to continue to have unnecessary delays at that border. It is therefore important and urgent that we start in earnest the process of establishing a One Stop Border Post. Our two countries took a decision to do so as far back as 2009.”

President Zuma ordered Ministers and officials to provide positive feedback on progress at the OSBP at the next BNC to be hosted by Zimbabwe next year.

“In this regard, we direct the relevant ministers and officials to move with speed and report progress at the next BNC.

“We note with satisfaction the ever-growing cooperation between our two countries as evidenced by the existing 40 agreements and Memoranda of Understanding. These agreements are aimed at promoting political, economic and social cooperation.

“They cover a wide range of areas including double taxation, justice, defence, transport, water, science and technology, health, migration, labour, economic and trade cooperation, and tourism, to mention but a few.  We also need to ensure the full implementation of the agreements,” he said.

President Zuma said they were happy that Ministers and officials had developed monitoring mechanisms such as Mid Term Reviews saying this would go a long way to assist in the implementation agenda.

President Zuma, who is also the Sadc chair, said he looks forward to working with President Mugabe in championing the region’s theme “Partnering with the Private sector in developing industry and regional value-chains”.

In a joint communiqué issued after the meeting yesterday, the two Heads of States also reiterated their commitment to “improving and strengthening the economic relations between the two countries by facilitating trade and removing impediments constraining bilateral trade and investments.”

The communiqué said “the two Heads of States noted the existence of more than forty bilateral agreements and Memorandum of Understanding between the two countries and directed that these agreements be fully implemented.”

On the international front, the communiqué said the two leaders “affirmed their commitment to working together in pursuit of peace, stability and economic development in the region” while they also welcomed the admission of Comoros into Sadc and urged Lesotho and DRC to implement the regional body’s recommendations to solve their internal squabbles.

Zimbabwe’s Cabinet Ministers, Dr Ignatuis Chombo, Dr Sydney Sekeramayi, Dr David Parirenyatwa, Mrs Prisca Mupfumira, Dr Mike Bimha and Dr Joram Gumbo attended the meeting.

The two countries also agreed to host the next BNC in Harare next year.

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