New heights attained in Zim-Bots ties President Mnangagwa and his Botswana counterpart President Mokgweetsi Masisi congratulate each other after signing Memorandums of Understanding on the closing day of the Zimbabwe-Botswana 3rd Bi-National Commission meeting at Elephant Hills Hotel in Victoria Falls, yesterday.

Nduduzo Tshuma and Leonard Ncube in Victoria Falls

ZIMBABWE and Botswana’s bilateral relations yesterday attained new heights of friendship with the signing of five additional Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) as the two nations cemented fraternal relations on a wide-range of socio-economic issues.

There was consensus on all issues, with President Mnangagwa highlighting that there had never been a time in the past 42 years that relations between Zimbabwe and Botswana had been better.

President Mnangagwa and his Botswana counterpart, Mokgweetsi Masisi ,witnessed the signing of agreements on child protection, cooperation in the field of tourism, cooperation in the field of agriculture and food security, water  and cooperation on youth development, at a ceremony that marked the end of the five-day third session of the Zimbabwe-Botswana Bi-National Commission (BNC) here yesterday.

President Masisi commended President Mnangagwa’s leadership, saying Zimbabwe had a good leader.

Botswana Foreign Affairs Minister Lemogang Kwape, who is co-chair of the ministerial gathering, signed all agreements on behalf of his country while his Zimbabwean counterpart Dr Frederick Shava signed the MoU on cooperation on youth development.

Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Professor Paul Mavima signed the MoU on Child Protection while Tourism Minister Nqobizitha Ndlovu signed the cooperation in the field of tourism MoU, with Agriculture Minister Dr Anxious Masuka signing two MoUs on cooperation in the field of agriculture and food security, and water cooperation. 

President Mnangagwa and President Masisi pose for a photograph with Cabinet ministers from their respective countries at the signing ceremony. — Pictures: Tawanda Mudimu.

The ministers were among 20 others who attended the session from both countries. 

This takes to 25, MoUs that the two sisterly countries have signed since the first session of the BNC in February 2019, with 18 outstanding out of the 43 that the two nations came up with.

The session started on Monday with senior officials from both countries deliberating to finalise the draft agreements and culminated in the signing in the presence of the two presidents who officiated at the opening and closing ceremonies.

President Mnangagwa said the finalisation of these instruments was by no means an end in itself but must mark the beginning of concrete programmes by the two nations.

He said Zimbabwe stood ready to play its part towards the overwhelming success of this strategic cooperation, which he said was the first of its kind since the country attained independence in 1980.

“I wish to express my profound gratitude, my dear brother, for successful co-chairing of this 3rd session of the BNC. 

“This 3rd session of the commission has undoubtedly given us the opportunity to reflect on the state of our bilateral relations, identify bottlenecks and opportunities as well as the renewed commitment to further deepen our cooperation.

“We witnessed the signing of agreements and MoUs. This is reflective of how we continuously discover areas, which we need to work on for the purpose of progressing not only our relations but uplifting the lives of our people. 

“This has set the foundation for broader cooperation in the respective socio-economic sectors of our two countries,” said President Mnangagwa.

The President said the wide innovative and focused leadership had led to the fruitful outcomes of the BNC sessions, and going forward, there was a need for all parties to pull in the same direction 

“We must therefore see the full implementation of these agreements. The burden is on yourselves as ministers and officials. We the Presidents, are simply supervisors.

“Coupled with hard honest work and a result oriented culture, let us all strive to do much more for the benefit of our two countries while at the same time lifting more and more of our citizens into prosperity from poverty,” highlighted President Mnangagwa. 

He applauded senior officials and ministerial teams for their dedication.

He said in areas where progress has been slow, it is important to introspect in order to establish factors that are impending progress and proffer implementable solutions.

President Masisi said the friendly, frank and able manner in which the deliberations were held was typical of thriving long standing cordial bilateral relations between the two countries.

“I am convinced that given the challenges that we have all experienced as a result of the pandemic, our collective resolve henceforth will be to leave no stone unturned in ensuring that we fully implement the outcomes and commitments that we have made here today. 

“Mr President, I have always found your company to be a source of inspiration because of the expanse of knowledge and wisdom that you selflessly impart to me, which contributes to the ease and yet effective conduct of the proceedings of our meetings.

“What is even encouraging is that we have signed five additional instruments which will further broaden our areas of cooperation. This fundamentally brought the number of agreements and MoUs which have been signed between the two countries to 25 and is a clear demonstration of the fast growing bilateral relations between our two countries,” said President Masisi.

He said there was satisfaction with the level of commitment made on a number of outstanding issues during this session, in particular the inclusion of the issue of livestock rustling across the border between the two countries, which has become prevalent and a perennial challenge.

President Masisi said child protection and cooperation on water were key in facilitating requisite collaboration in the protection of children, conservation and management of shared waters.

“I have no doubt that the outcomes and decisions that we have made here today will greatly assist in consolidating our efforts towards the immediate objective of uplifting the livelihoods of our peoples.

“While all instruments are developed to expedite implementation of collaborative programmes, I wish to particularly highlight the importance of the instrument of child protection in conformity with the international statutes based on their vulnerability,” he said.

The Botswana President said the strategic decision to re-evaluate the Ponta Techobanine Project to a regional project was within the realm of the BNC as the project was of significant importance to the regional, continental economic integration and development aspirations as it will open up alternative routes to external markets in Asia, Middle East and Europe.

President Masisi praised the hospitality of Zimbabwean people as he congratulated Victoria Falls for attaining the prestigious city status in December 2020 and the opening of the foreign currency denominated Victoria Falls Stock Exchange.

Commenting on yesterday’s development, the Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Monica Mutsvangwa said: “By dint of the personal rapport between President Mnangagwa and President Masisi, we are now bossom friends. The two have smoothened all wrinkles including those inherited from our shared colonial past.”

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