By Tichaona Kurewa
THE third session of the Zimbabwe – Botswana Bi-National Commission opened in Victoria Falls this Monday with calls to implement resolutions from the previous session and cooperation in various areas.
The five-day meeting is focused on reviewing bilateral relations in various economic sectors, implementing agreements and exchanging views on regional, continental and international issues.
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Ambassador James Manzou lamented the slow implementation of agreements from the previous session.
“It is evident that under the economic cluster, some key agreements that are central to our economic development are still to be concluded. These include agreements on Double Taxation and Mining, and Trade and Investment Promotion, just to name a few. The irony is hard to miss, Co-Chair. I wish to therefore urge our colleagues in this sector to use the next few days to reflect on what is stalling the finalisation of some of these agreements and come up with a clear roadmap that culminates in their signing at the earliest possible date,” he said.
Ambassador Manzou also noted the need to facilitate the smooth movement of people between the two countries.
“The smooth flow of people, goods and services will remain hamstrung without the establishment of the One-Stop Border Post at Plumtree/Raokgwebana as agreed to in previous sessions. This One-Stop Border Post will address the bottlenecks to the smooth movement of people, goods and services that our people have been complaining about for far too long. I, therefore, urge the Ministries charged with this important responsibility to redouble their efforts in implementing this decision,” he added.
Botswana’s Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of International Affairs and Cooperation, Dr Gladys Mokhawa revealed that out of the 43 agreements under the second BNC, only 20 were signed and 23 are still pending.
“I am sure you will agree with me that the scenario behoves all of us to intensify our efforts not only to implement the decision of our principals but to deliver to the very public that we serve. It is, however, my ardent hope that more will be finalised during this session and that for signed agreements, we will effectively utilise this opportunity to ensure that they are fully implemented, for the socio-economic development of our two countries,” noted Mokhawa.
The five-day summit begins with a meeting of senior officials with Foreign Affairs and International Trade Secretary, Ambassador James Manzou leading the Zimbabwean delegation.