PRETORIA – President Cyril Ramaphosa and his counterpart, Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa, concluded the Bi-National Commission (BNC) in Harare on Tuesday, with calls for the expansion of trade and economic ties between the two Southern African neighbouring countries.
“The two heads of State [Ramaphosa and Mnangagwa] welcomed the positive outcomes of the third BNC held in Harare. They directed the ministers and officials to implement the decisions taken by the heads of state to further cement the strategic bilateral partnership,” the two governments said in a joint communique issued at the end of the summit.
“The two sides emphasised the importance of expanding trade and investment to drive the strategic engagement forward. In this regard, the heads of state-directed their finance and trade ministers to work together to achieve these goals.”
Ramaphosa is in Zimbabwe on an official visit, for the third session of the BNC, at the invitation of Mnangagwa. The South African president is accompanied by five Cabinet ministers including International Relations and Cooperation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu.
The joint communique said the discussions in Harare were held “in a cordial atmosphere” the statement added.
“During the meeting, the two heads of state held discussions with a view to further strengthening and deepening bonds of friendship and cooperation between Zimbabwe and South Africa. They also exchanged views on regional, continental and international issues of mutual interest,” said the communique.
“The two presidents underlined the close and friendly bilateral ties deeply rooted in shared history, sustained and nourished through growing economic partnership, multifaceted cooperation as well as vibrant people-to-people contacts.”
The Zimbabwe authorities emphasised key initiatives it has implemented to improve the ease of doing business in the country and further informed the summit on its efforts to simplify and rationalise investment rules with the view to attract foreign direct investment into the once booming economy.
“The relevant ministries agreed to consider options for expanding the standing Facility Arrangement between the respective central banks. Other financing options beyond this are also being explored, for example a facility from South African private banks to the Zimbabwe private sector and guaranteed by the South African government, with an appropriate counter-guarantee from the Zimbabwe government,” said the communique.
Zimbabwe expressed appreciation for the “unwavering commitment” of the government and people of South Africa in calling for the removal of “illegal and unwarranted sanctions which are stifling the country's economic recovery programme”.
At the BNC, Ramaphosa and Mnangagwa “unequivocally called for the removal of sanctions on Zimbabwe whose adverse effects have been far-reaching across the political and socio-economic spectrums”.
Zimbabwe expressed goodwill and confidence in South Africa’s successful holding of the upcoming elections, scheduled for May.
Ramaphosa and Mnangagwa also expressed “deepest condolences” to the government and the people of Ethiopia on the loss of lives in the recent air disaster involving flight ET103 which resulted in the deaths of at least 157 people.
Ramaphosa extended an invitation for Mnangwagwa to attend the fourth session of the BNC to be hosted by South Africa next year.
African News Agency (ANA)