Felex Share Senior Reporter
BILATERAL relations between Zimbabwe and South African are at their peak and the expected visit of President Jacob Zuma to Harare by July will bolster existing ties even further, an envoy has said.
South Africa’s Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Vusi Mavimbela yesterday said bilateral engagements, which used to be at ministerial level, had been upgraded to presidential level through the Bi-National Commission.
He made the remarks after bidding farewell to Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko at his Munhumutapa offices in Harare.
“I came to say thank you very much for all the good working relationships we have had in the past five years I have been here and also to thank the Zimbabwean Government for the fact that during my stay here, we were able to upgrade our relations,” Mr Mavimbela said.
“Our relations now are at the highest possible level that South Africa can have with any other country, what we call a Bi-National Commission. It is annual meetings of the two governments, co-chaired by the two Heads of State. President Mugabe went to South Africa last year and this year President Zuma will be coming to Zimbabwe. This is the highest level at which these kind of relations can be established and I am happy these were established during my tenure.”
He said President Zuma was expected in Zimbabwe by July in fulfilment of conditions of the Bi-National Commission.
Said Mr Mavimbela: “He (President Zuma) is supposed to come here and the engagement would be to look back to say what agreements were signed and what progress has been made in implementing those agreements, and say from now, how do we go forward?”
Zimbabwe and South Africa share strategic partnerships hinged on their geographical proximity, highly skilled manpower resources, technological expertise, abundant natural resources among other things, which if leveraged on could help in addressing the current poor trade balance between the two neighbours. The two countries also share similarities in their economic blueprints, the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation and South Africa’s National Development Plan, both of which highlight the same issues relating to food security and nutrition, social services and poverty eradication, infrastructure and utilities and value addition and beneficiation. From an investment perspective, a number of South African companies continue to operate in Zimbabwe, principally in the mining, tourism, agriculture, banking and retail sectors.
According to FDI Markets, between 2003 and 2015, South Africa invested R20 billion in Zimbabwe in the mining, agriculture, banking and retail sectors. A further attestation to the economic activity between the two countries is highlighted in the ongoing participation of South African companies in the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair, where 23 exhibitors participated last year.
This year, 33 South African companies representing diverse sectors including agro-processing, mining, healthcare, infrastructure and ICT among others, are expected to exhibit at the ZITF.