Botswana amplifies call for sanctions removal President Mnangagwa welcomes his Botswana counterpart President Mokgweetsi Masisi at Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport

Mukudzei Chingwere and Blessings Chidakwa

ILLEGAL sanctions imposed by Western countries on Zimbabwe are not only affecting Zimbabweans but the whole Southern African Development Community region and their removal will ensure economic growth, Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi, who is in the country to officially open the 112th Zimbabwe Agricultural Show (ZAS), has said.

For over two decades now, Zimbabwe has been groaning under the yoke of baneful sanctions that were imposed by Britain and her allies as punishment for the land reform programme that redressed land inequities.

President Masisi touched down at Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport together with his wife yesterday and received a warm welcome from President Mnangagwa and First Lady Amai Auxillia Mnangagwa.

They received a 21-gun salute and a thunderous welcome from the cheering hordes of Zanu PF supporters drawn from across Harare province who were waving flags of Zimbabwe and Botswana.

Addressing the Zanu PF party supporters at the airport, President Masisi said his country will continue standing with Zimbabwe until the unilateral economic sanctions are unconditionally lifted.

“Botswana continues to call for the removal of sanctions against Zimbabwe. These sanctions must go. They must go forever.

“They are also sanctions against Botswana. If Zimbabwe is sanctioned, Botswana is sanctioned and we cannot like that. So tell your friends that we don’t like the sanctions,” he said.

President Masisi also hailed the existing strong relations between the two ruling parties — Zanu PF and the Botswana Democratic Party.

“I was just telling him (President Mnangagwa) we just came from our elective congress in our ruling party and Zanu PF was represented very well. We had a wonderful congress.

“We are the ruling party in Botswana and you are the ruling party in Zimbabwe. The two parties are friends and the two of us belong to parties of former liberation movements.”

At the airport, President Mnangagwa also expressed gratitude to the Zanu PF supporters for the kind gesture of welcoming his “friend” President Masisi together with his wife.

“President Masisi, these are Zanu PF members from Harare.

“The moment they heard you are coming, because of the good relations between Botswana and Zimbabwe, they felt we must give our brother a resounding welcome,” he said.

President Mnangagwa and President Mokgweetsi Masisi at State House in Harare yesterday.— Pictures: Believe Nyakudjara and Justin Mutenda

Zanu PF leadership led by the party national chairman Cde Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, senior Government officials and Service Chiefs were also in attendance.

Later on, the President had a tête-à-tête with his counterpart at State House before hosting a dinner that was also graced by several top Government officials from both countries.

After a closed door meeting, President Masisi reiterated his call for the removal of sanctions on Zimbabwe.

“We once had the jargon of targeted sanctions. There are no targeted sanctions. These sanctions are targeting Zimbabwe and they are targeting Zimbabweans.

“I had an intimate discussion with the leaders of the EU (European Union). I said to them, if you have complaints about what Zimbabwe is doing, you need to sit around a table and talk to Zimbabweans. We are calling on the international community to remove sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe, they are hurtful, they even mitigate against the realisation of our UN targets of 2030,” said President Masisi.

President Mnangagwa has configured Zimbabwe towards the attainment of an upper middle income society by 2030. As a prerequisite to that vision, Government’s foreign policy is now premised on economic diplomacy.

In their discussions yesterday, economic collaboration was at the centre of their exchanges, as a means of boosting the livelihoods of their respective peoples.

“We talked about the Kazungula bridge and I confirmed as I do through yourselves, to His Excellency President Mnangagwa, that Botswana and Zambia, who are the co-owners of that bridge, are anxious to have Zimbabwe join in as was originally planned,” said President Masisi.

“Let bygones be bygones, Zimbabwe will have a calculated sum to pay to own shares. We feel strongly that we will be stronger with Zimbabwe and we are anxious that they come on board.”

President Masisi said they also discussed ways of protecting livestock in their respective countries as well as working in unison to open international markets for beef exports.

“We exchanged views and ideas, many of them common. We want to enhance our relations on how we deal with the common problems affecting our livestock industry, foot and mouth. We have been able to export our beef products to markets that are very stringent and we are committed that Zimbabwe can come to the same level as us,” he said.

Regarding the Kazungula bridge, President Mnangagwa said previously there were tensions, before the Second Republic, but now all parties are agreed that Zimbabwe should come on board.

He said national interests must come before individual interests, adding that leaders come and go while countries remain.

President Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe is ready to meet its obligations in joining the Kazungula project with financial resources towards that requirement already set aside.

“The original concept of that bridge had three parties, Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe. We have already budgeted for our side of financial contribution. That is ongoing, we are happy with that,” he said.

“We have also taken this opportunity of coming together to have our ministers discuss our bilateral relations and interrogating the decisions which we took at the BNC (Bi-National Commission). At the level of ourselves as Heads of State, we exchanged views about our bilateral relations as well as regional issues.”

Today, President Masisi is expected to visit the National Heroes Acre before officially opening the Zimbabwe Agricultural Show.

Later he will visit Nyanga.

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