By Justin Mahlahla
Presidents Emmerson Mnangagwa and Mokgweetsi Masisi have renewed calls for more cooperation between Zimbabwe and Botswana for the socio-economic development of their respective countries.
Speaking this morning at the Bi-National Commission between Zimbabwe and Botswana which is underway in Victoria Falls, President Mnangagwa said economic cooperation between Zimbabwe and Botswana will greatly improve the lives of the citizenry of the two partners.
“As we accelerate the modernisation and industrialisation of our respective countries, the importance of science, technology and innovation along with information communication technology cannot be over-emphasised. Equally important is the need to facilitate the growth of the entrepreneurial culture of our young people so that they produce goods and services to meet the needs of our communities and economies as a whole,” he said.
President Mnangagwa also noted that business prospects in renewable energy, tourism, mining and manufacturing industry must be actualised and youths must aspire to produce goods and services for the country and to create employment.
He said” “We must facilitate their aspirations. Our ministers and senior officials are challenged to give these matters the attention they deserve, especially in the context of the private sector-driven economic growth model as well as private public sector partnerships.”
“The need to ensure that the bilateral relationship between our two countries translates to tangible benefits for our people respective economies and people, and this must remain our focus.”
The President cited infrastructure development as a critical enabler to the economic development of the two countries and the region as a whole.
“For a country to be viewed as developing and developed, it must have visible infrastructure, good health facilities, good universities, good roads, dam construction, good agriculture, developed mining and so on.
“Zimbabwe is presently undertaking multi-pronged infrastructure projects that will ensure greater connectivity within the region. With regards to the modernisation and expansion of our border posts, road, rail and energy infrastructure, we are particularly ready to undertake projects that will facilitate and improve trade flows between our countries,” he said.
He called for increased and urgent cooperation in the agriculture sectors of the two countries, saying: “The need to guarantee and strengthen resilience, in nutrition and nutrition security for our people remains imperative, more so, in view of the devastating impact of climate change.
There is need therefore to heighten our cooperation in the agriculture sector. The conclusion of the enabling agreement in this sector in therefore urgent and long overdue.”
“The realisation of sustainable peace and security in our African continent and within the SAC region remains a key pillar to the achievement of sustainable socio-economic development for our region and our respective countries.
“Undeniably, Zimbabwe and Botswana have a long-standing history of cooperation in the area of defence and security. I commend the security sector for remaining resolute and unwavering in defence of the sovereign and territorial integrity of our respective countries,” said President Mnangagwa.
He note: “The sector is, however, is encouraged to heighten its vigilance in view of the ever-evolving nature of security threats within our region, which now includes the growing threats of terrorism and cyber-crimes.”
President Mnangagwa thanked President Masisi for the sterling leadership he provided the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security in 2020, when the organisation resolved to deploy the SADC Mission in Mozambique towards the fight against terrorist insurgency in Cabo Delgado province and the overall preservation of the peace and security of the region.
“It is however now important that we scale up our efforts in this respect with renewed resolve and a greater sense of urgency,” added President Mnangagwa.
“On its part, Zimbabwe will be holding by-elections in March 2022, to fill vacancies within the national assembly and local authorities. These have been occasioned by recalls from Parliament by our opposition as they splitting, splitting and splitting, and recalling themselves out of Parliament. The by-elections could not be held earlier due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said the President.
He told the delegates that preparations for Zimbabwe’s scheduled 2023 harmonised general elections are progressing well, congratulated the Republic of Zambia for holding peaceful and successful elections in August 2021 and wished the Republic of Angola and the Kingdom of Lesotho successful elections this year.
President Masisi said Botswana has noted with great admiration and ululation, the upgrading of Victoria Falls to the prestigious city status in December 2020.
“I am confident that with this great milestone, Vic Falls is poised to achieve the aspiration of becoming a smart competitive green city and a thriving tourist and smart destination of choice by and before 2030,” he said.
“The discovery of the first instance of the COVID-19 Omicron variant by Botswana scientists, is a demonstration that the continent is endowed with the requisite human capacity capable of participating in causes that aim to find solutions to human challenges, noted President Masisi.
“Our common resolve to advocate for the equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines together with the massive rollout of vaccinations has contributed significantly to the management of the pandemic in our respective countries,” said President Masisi.
President Masisi also told the delegates that his country will always reiterate calls for the removal of illegal sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe.
“We continue to advocate for the unconditional removal of sanctions on Zimbabwe, which continue to dampen efforts towards economic freedom for the people and the children of Zimbabwe and the entire region.
“I wish to note Your Excellency and inform you, that when the EU met, I met the vice president of the EU Commission, Mr Borel, we had one-on-one, eyeball-to-eyeball engagement when he questioned my statement to the UN General Assembly. And between the eyeball-to-eyeball encounter between the two of us, he was the first to dip his face.“
He appreciated the involvement of the business sector in the BNC meetings, describing it as critical to the driving of the economies of Zimbabwe and Botswana.
The Bi-National Commission will see the leaders of Zimbabwe and Botswana witness the signing of Memoranda of Understanding which capture the detail on a number of cooperations between the two sister nations.