Opening Remarks by Hon. Maite Nkoana-Mashabane on the occasion of the Second Session of the Bi-National Commission (BNC) between the Republic of South Africa and the Republic of Zimbabwe, Pretoria, 02 October 2017

My Dear Brother, Honourable Minister Mumbengegwi,

Honourable Ministers,

Your Excellencies,

Senior Officials from our respective Governments,

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good Morning

Honourable Minister Mumbengegwi, I would like to begin by extending to you and your delegation a very warm welcome to South Africa.

Honourable Minister

As you are aware, the people of South Africa consider Zimbabwe a great friend and neighbour. This Bi-National Commission provides us, once more, with 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.

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.

I am quite encouraged to note that since the signing of the BNC Agreement in 2015, during the State Visit to South Africa of His Excellency, President Robert Mugabe, we have been consistent in holding all meetings between our two countries as required. I must also commend our two sides for holding a successful Mid-Term Review on 31 August 2017 whose purpose was to monitor and assess progress made since the last BNC held in Harare in November 2016 as well as to prepare for this BNC.  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.

Honourable Minister,

Our annual interactions and consultations within the framework of the BNC bring forth accountability and enhance the implementation of all Agreements and MoUs that have been signed between our two countries.  In this regard, I am pleased to note that more than forty (40) Agreements and Memoranda of Understanding in various fields currently exist between our two countries. Furthermore, I am pleased to learn that several Agreements and MoUs between our governments are currently at various stages of completion and will soon be signed. It is important, however, that as we sign these agreements, we keep our focus squarely on implementation, because agreements do not create employment; agreements do not eradicate poverty; agreement do not bring equality. It is their implementation of these agreements that facilitate these objectives.  Our objectives should be to change livelihoods, develop our youth, ensure the equal participation of women in our economies, create jobs and brings food on the table.

In order to achieve this, we must engage more effectively in co-operation projects in the fields of agriculture, mining, infrastructure development, defence and security, economy and finance, trade and investments as well as social and humanitarian affairs, so as to raise our bilateral relations to new levels. Together, I strongly believe that our joint efforts will be rewarded in bringing forth radical economic transformation which will translate into better lives for all in our two countries.

Honourable Minister

Our cooperation should not be confined to our bilateral relations. This Second Session of the BNC takes place not long after the 37th Ordinary SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government and the preceding meetings, in which South Africa assumed the position of the Chair of SADC. 

We look forward to continue working together with Zimbabwe to fast-track regional integration and the implementation of the SADC Industrialisation Strategy, adopted in Harare in 2015 and ensuring greater participation of the private sector as a catalyst to expedite greater output.

Therefore, beyond the scope of our bilateral relations we need to continue with the same ardent vision for regional integration and development, strive for peace and security and stability in our countries, the Continent and the World. Together, we remain committed to the implementation of the development aspirations of the AU Agenda 2063 and the UN Agenda 2030 and the achievement of its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Honourable Minister,

We meet here today to assess progress in the implementation of bilateral projects since our last BNC 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.

We look forward to the report that will be presented to us this morning and seeing action plans and activities that are sustainable, achievable, realistic and time-bound to enable us to monitor and assess progress on a regular basis, going forward.

Honourable Minister

It is only by working together that we can move our great countries forward. I look forward to fruitful deliberations and the report prepared by our Senior Officials.

I thank you.

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

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