Africa Moyo Senior Business Reporter
Zimbabwe should forge diplomatic and economic relations with the rest of SADC countries to build an economic fortress at the heart of the region, Presidential Advisory Council (PAC) and seasoned industrialist Mr Joe Mutizwa has said.
He said this as he reviewed this week’s successful Zimbabwe-Botswana Bi-National Commission (BNC) meetings, whose agreements spanned various areas of cooperation.
Just as well, in under a fortnight, Zimbabwe hosts South African President Cyril Rampahosa, who will lead his country into another BNC with Zimbabwe, all giving a lift to Zimbabwe’s diplomatic endeavours.
Mr Mutizwa told The Business Herald on Friday that the signing of various agreements under the BNC between President Mnangagwa and his Botswana counterpart Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi, was a positive development.
He said it was imperative that Harare replicates what it has done with Botswana with all SADC member states so as to forge a robust economic front.
“I am very encouraged by the BNC,” said Mr Mutizwa.
“This is a positive development and I feel that Zimbabwe needs to strengthen its relations with neighbours now, more than any other time in the past because we are under an onslaught from other quarters,” he said.
Botswana pledged to guarantee a facility by Botswana capital to Zimbabwe’s industry.
“It (the BWP1 billion credit facility) opens avenues for Zimbabwean industry to grow its operations, and it is my wish that the same relations are forged with other SADC nations so that we build an economic fortress.”
Six agreements and MoUs, including cooperation in the energy sector; on Geology, Mining, Metallurgy; Extradition Treaty; Diplomatic Consultations; Rules and Procedures Governing the meeting of the BNC; and Cooperation in the field of Science and Technology were signed.
Industrialists and economists have hailed the strengthening of relations between the two countries, and believe the move will see trade across borders growing.
Zimbabwe exports to Botswana were US$29,08 million during 2016, according to the United Nations COMTRADE database on international trade.
This was a measly contribution to Botswana’s import bill of US$6,1 billion.
The trade statistics are now expected to jump going forward following the credit facility extended by Botswana, and a general improvement in relations.