Pretoria – Ministers and other top government officials from South Africa and Zimbabwe spent the day on Monday, holding preliminary discussions which precede President Robert Mugabe’s official visit to Pretoria.
“We meet here today to assess progress in the implementation of bilateral projects since our last BNC [Bi-National Commission] in Harare, in November 2016. The senior officials have met for the past two days in preparation of our meeting of today. We trust that they have utilised this platform optimally to explore new areas of mutual opportunity,” South Africa’s International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said addressing the ministerial session.
On Tuesday, President Jacob Zuma will host Mugabe in Pretoria, and the two leaders will co-chair the BNC session.
Nkoana-Mashabane said the people of SA consider Zimbabwe “a great friend and neighbour”.
“This Bi-National Commission provides us, once more, the opportunity to renew and strengthen the historic bonds between our countries, solidified during the liberation struggle. Today the struggle we wage is not for liberation but against the triple challenges of poverty, inequality and unemployment,” she said.
“South Africa is determined to continue to expand efforts towards ensuring socio-economic development, joint prosperity and the mutual benefit of our people and in this regard. Our partnership can contribute towards this noble goal, if we work together with single-mindedness.”
Since the signing of the BNC Agreement in 2015, during Mugabe’s State Visit to South Africa, officials from the two countries have been consistent in holding the bilateral meetings between as stipulated.
A “successful” mid-term review was also held last month to monitor and assess progress made since the last BNC meeting hosted in Harare, in 2016, as well as to prepare for the current BNC meeting.
“In this regard, this second session of the BNC will allow our principals, His Excellencies President Zuma and President Mugabe an opportunity to meet and discuss important issues of mutual interest and to further deepen relations between our two countries,” said Nkoana-Mashabane.
Foreign Affairs Minister of Zimbabwe, Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, said the Southern African two governments should wrap up issues which have long been on their agenda, particularly the establishment of a one-stop Beitbridge-Musina border post between the two nations.
“Our two countries stand to benefit immensely from the smooth movement of people and goods through the Beitbridge-Musina border post. A one-stop at the busiest border post in the African continent will bring harmonised processes, improved infrastructure and smiles to many of our compatriots and others who regularly traverse through this border. It will produce impacts that will extend beyond our two countries and region,” said Mumbengegwi.
“The establishment of the one-stop border post at Beitbridge-Musina is an urgent issue that needs our dedicated attention.
On behalf of the government of Zimbabwe, Mumbengegwi took the opportunity to thank Pretoria authorities for the new permit regime for almost 200 000 Zimbabwean nationals, whose permits were due to expire in December.