Opening Remarks by Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Republic of South Africa, on the occasion of the 1st Session of the Bi-National Commission between the Republic of South Africa and the Republic of Zimbabwe, Harare, 02 October 2016.

My Dear Brother, Honourable Minister Mumbengegwi,
Honourable Ministers;
Co-chairs of Senior Officials;
Your Excellencies, Mr I Moyo, Ambassador of Zimbabwe to South Africa and Mr M Mbete, Ambassador of South Africa to Zimbabwe;
Senior Officials from our respective Governments,
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen

Good Morning

I would like to begin by thanking you, Honourable Minister Mumbengegwi, for your warm words of welcome extended to my delegation.

My Dear Comrade, your warm and kind words of welcome have made us feel at home in this beautiful country, Zimbabwe. It is absolutely important to reaffirm that Zimbabwe is a second home to many South Africans.

Comrade Co-Chair,

Allow me to convey our profound gratitude for the legendary hospitality which your Government has been accorded to our delegation. We also thank you for availing these majestic facilities to our meeting.

Honourable Minister

I fully concur with your opening remarks. Our two countries and peoples share the same history, geography and culture. We speak the same languages and share the same dreams, the dreams of an independent, united and prosperous neighbourhood. This is what informs our relations.

Ladies and gentlemen,

We speak of relations of a special kind. These are the relations that were forged during the difficult period, the period when we were fighting against colonialism and apartheid.

Informed and guided by this rich history, our two countries have made concerted efforts over the years to ensure that these historical relations are transformed into mutual cooperation that covers political and socio-economic spheres.

Ladies and gentlemen,

It bears noting that as early as 1995 our two countries established a Joint Commission for Cooperation which was a mechanism designed to promote political, economic and social cooperation between the two sister Republics.

This Joint Commission facilitated a process wherein our two countries were able over the years to sign thirty eight (38) Agreements and Memoranda of Understanding. These agreements and memoranda of understanding cover a wide range of areas, including transport, tourism, trade and investment, immigration, health, science, labour, taxation, just to mention but a few.

The existence of this large number of legal instruments signifies the depth of the sectoral cooperation between our two nations.

Ladies and gentlemen,

It was in April 2015 during the State Visit to South Africa of His Excellency, President Robert Mugabe, that our two countries took a definitive step to elevate our bilateral cooperation to the level of Heads of State through the signing of an Agreement establishing a Bi-National Commission.  

The BNC is the highest form of a structured bilateral mechanism whereby our two countries will meet annually at the level of Heads of State.

Principally, the BNC provides the required impetus to help us forge a closer strategic cooperation and partnership.

Co-Chair,

We are excited therefore that we meet here this morning on the occasion of the 1st Session of our important BNC. As we launch our BNC, it will be essential to identify the key areas of our cooperation. Key among those should be the promotion of a mutually beneficial economic cooperation not only for our respective countries but also for regional integration.

Infrastructure development to facilitate ease movement of goods and services cannot be overstated. In this regard, we need to pay a particular focus on the One Stop Border Post at Beitbridge.

We trust that we will utilise this Session to explore new areas of cooperation and most importantly to further enhance existing ones.

Ladies and gentlemen,

As we meet here today we also are mindful of the current regional, continental and global challenges. Our economies are currently under pressure due to global commodity prices, fluctuating currencies, shrinking GDP growth, including natural disasters such the El Nino drought phenomenon. We therefore need to work together to alleviate the negative impact of these challenges.

On the issues of peace and security in the region and the continent, we need to continue to work to play our part towards resolving these.

I hope the report of our senior officials who have been meeting for the past two days will begin to chart a clear path as we launch our strategic BNC.

Co-Chair,

Let me conclude by thanking you once more for your kind words of welcome.

I thank you

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

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