Zim-Kenya Joint Commission opens ahead of President Ruto’s visit Acting Secretary for Foreign Affairs and International Trade Ambassador Rofina Chikava (right) listens as Director for Africa in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Diaspora Affairs of the Republic of Kenya, Ambassador Dennis Mburu, addresses the 4th session of the Joint Permanent Commission on Cooperation between Zimbabwe and Kenya in Harare yesterday. — Picture Innocent Makawa

Farirai Machivenyika

Senior Reporter

The 4th Zimbabwe-Kenya Joint Permanent Commission on Cooperation opened in Harare yesterday, offering an opportunity for the two countries to broaden their relationship for mutual benefit, Director for Africa in Kenya’s Ministry of Foreign and Diaspora Affairs Ambassador Dennis Mburu said yesterday. 

The JPCC is being held ahead of the State Visit by Kenyan President Mr William Ruto, who is expected to officially open the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair in Bulawayo on Friday. 

Speaking at the opening of the senior officials’ session of the JPCC, being held under the theme of consolidating and deepening socio-economic ties, Ambassador Mburu said: “This JPCC presents us with a unique opportunity to elevate our bilateral relations by identifying and zeroing in on areas of cooperation that are of mutual benefit and by fostering trade within the existing regional economic frameworks. 

“It is our shared responsibility to assist in our collaborative efforts to fortify bilateral cooperation for the mutual benefit of our nations. The JIPCC offers us a chance not only to expand the relations but also to take advantage of the frameworks that exist within the Africa Continental Free Trade Area, Common Market for East and Southern Africa, the Tripartite and other arrangements,” he said. 

The JPCC should assist in the deepening of ties anchored on the expansion of trade, agriculture and investment for the mutual benefit of the two nations. 

Ambassador Mburu said Kenya remained committed to that broadening cooperation across all sectors. 

“By fostering cooperation, we can ensure that socio-economic development between our countries actually transcends to the greater continent. As we embark on this session, let us be determined to finalise and execute pending agreements. 

“This marks a powerful moment in us even as we seek to deepen our relationship. Even as we do so, let us place emphasis on ensuring that we have a robust implementation framework that guides the implementation and the additions that we come up with today and days to come,” Ambassador Mburu said. 

 Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade acting Permanent Secretary Ambassador Rofina Chikava said bilateral relations between Zimbabwe and Kenya, dating back to the time of Zimbabwe’s struggle for independence, were excellent.

“These cordial relations continue to grow from strength to strength, and this has been demonstrated by, among other things, the continued exchange of high-level visits and continuous engagement by our two Presidents at several forums,” she said. 

Ambassador Chikava said President Mnangagwa visited Kenya in September 2022, where he attended the inauguration of President Ruto as the fifth President of Kenya with that visit being preceded by another one a few months earlier in March of the same year. 

“The two heads of state further held bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the Feed Africa Summit held in Dakar, Senegal, in February 2023,” she said. 

Ambassador Chikava said Zimbabwe was grateful for the granting of citizenship to a group of Zimbabwean descent in Kenya that had lived there many years which had strengthened the people-to-people relations between the two countries. 

She said the third Session of the JPCC held in Kenya in March 2002 culminated in the signing of seven memorandums of understanding on: Political and diplomatic consultation; promotion of cooperation; cooperation in the field of tourism and wildlife management; cooperation in the field of civil aircraft accident and serious incident investigation; cooperation in the promotion of women’s empowerment and community development; cooperation in the field of youth affairs; and cooperation in the field of sports recreation. 

“This in itself is a sign that the scope of our cooperation is expanding and we therefore need to strengthen it through implementation of these MoUs. 

“I am pleased to also say that the session of our JPCC will be preceded by the State visit by the President of the Republic of Kenya, President Ruto, from 26 to 27 April 2024. We are indeed blessed to have two consecutive JPCCs preface a State visit,” she said. 

Ambassador Chikava said the mid-term review meeting of the third session of the JPCC held in March last year showed that the implementation of most of the MoUs have been satisfactory. 

“For example, in the foreign affairs administration and governance cluster, we have witnessed continued exchange of high-level visits and continued engagement by our two presidents at various forums. I also take note with gratitude the implementation of the MoU on cooperation in the promotion of women empowerment and community development and the continued support of candidates of each other at the international level,” she said.

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