Oliver Kazunga Bulawayo Bureau
South Africa and Zimbabwe are working hard to implement a joint special economic zone corridor anchored on Beitbridge and Musina, says Zimbabwe Special Economic Zones Authority chief executive officer Mr Edwin Kondo.
The proposal of a Harare-Beitbridge-Musina-Makhado Special Economic Zone Corridor arose from the meeting of the bi-national commission in March this year in Harare.
President Mnangagwa and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa chaired the commission, set up to strengthen mutual cooperation and implement 45 bilateral agreements.
Following the resolutions of the 3rd session of the BNC, an eight-member delegation from South Africa’s Department of Trade and Industry was in Zimbabwe to discuss strategies of expanding trade and investment for the two countries.
Mr Kondo said the discussion they held centred on the development of the Harare-Beitbridge-Musina-Makhado Special Economic Zone Corridor and the first draft of the agreement is expected not later than December 13 this year.
Discussions between Harare and Pretoria also centred on the formation of a joint technical team comprising key implementing agencies or institutions; development of value chains in key sectors, including mining, energy, and logistics, among others, underpinned by availability of vast resources within the proposed corridor.
The resources include minerals (chrome, lithium, manganese, coal and rare earth minerals) and the Limpopo River. Representatives of the two countries prioritised infrastructure development in the form of road networks, rail, airports, dry ports as well as bonded warehouses.
And Mr Kondo says Government was determined to drive the Special Economic Zones initiative “hence the need for action in terms of a mutually beneficial cooperation under the SA-Zim Bi-National Commission Framework”.
Zimbabwe came up with the idea of establishing special economic zones in a bid to attract meaningful foreign direct investment. It is hoped that these zones will help build a more open economic system that will thrust Zimbabwe on a development path.
The zones provide local and international businesses with incentives to invest in development and infrastructure through reductions in tax and regulation. Tax benefits are the most common form of incentive and there could be tax breaks or tax holidays.
Meanwhile, in a related mission to strengthen the call to promote the development and economic integration between Zimbabwe and South Africa, a Zimbabwean delegation led by the Minister of State for Provincial Affairs Dr Ellen Gwaradzimba last month visited Coega Development Corporation (Pty) Ltd in South Africa.
The visit was a benchmarking exercise that has seen Coega expressing interest over the establishment and operation of a special economic zone in Manicaland.
Coega Development Corporation programme director Dr Siyabonga Simayi added that their discussion with Government officials from Manicaland was a step towards realising goals set to improve and sustain the two countries’ development.
“We look forward to working with the delegation from Zimbabwe, and further expand our expertise to the continent,” said Dr Simayi.