ZIMBABWE has reaffirmed its commitment to strengthen and deepen relations with Malawi which have been running at a relatively low level over the years despite immense opportunities for growth in sectors such as agriculture, mining, energy, manufacturing, tourism, forestry, infrastructure development, pharmaceuticals, higher education, science and technology and innovation space.
The two countries yesterday signed a number of Memoranda of Understanding at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe, aimed at cementing the excellent relations that exist between Zimbabwe and Malawi which are bound by a shared history, culture and developmental aspirations. The historical ties formed when both Zimbabwe and Malawi were part of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland.
As at 2022, the trade balance stood at US$32,5 million in favour of Malawi, while Zimbabwe exports to Malawi stand at about US$6 million against imports from Malawi of US$38,5 million.
The two countries singed MoUs on cooperation in the fields of local government, police matters, gender, forestry management, immigration, energy, information and broadcasting.
President Mnangagwa said: “I reaffirm that my administration stands ready to strengthen and deepen our relations. It is regrettable that to date, trade between Zimbabwe and Malawi has been relatively low, despite immense growth opportunities for growth. These include in sectors such as agriculture, mining, energy, manufacturing, tourism, forestry, infrastructure development, pharmaceuticals, higher education and science and technology and innovation space.
“There is need to create a conducive trading environment to increase the levels of trade between our two countries.”
He called for more exchanges between the two countries in line with the importance of private sector-led economic growth and development.
“I commend Malawi for hosting the 11th Session of the Joint Permanent Commission on Cooperation (JPCC) from May 28 to 30, which acted as a preparatory meeting for the State Visit.
“The JPCC remains the most comprehensive framework for boosting levels of trade and investment between our two countries; however, it is most unfortunate that progress on the implementation of decisions we have made is slow.
“The conclusion of a number of memoranda of understanding paving way for their signing during the State visit is applauded. More important, however, is the full implementation of these agreements so that our cooperation translates to the modernisation, industrialisation and growth of our economies as well as an improved quality of lives of our people,” said President Mnangagwa.
He said since Malawi President Lazarus Chakwera’s last official visit to Zimbabwe in October 2020, Zimbabwe is realising a modest success and development milestones across all sectors of the economy. The growth is despite the albatross of illegal economic sanctions which continue to weigh heavily on the country’s national development agenda.
“Under our economic blueprint, the National Development Strategy (NDS1), our national Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by 8,5 percent in 2021, 6,4 percent in 2022 and is expected to grow by 3,8 percent in 2023. The implementation of comprehensive plans related to our agriculture sector has seen us realise food security.
“The mining sector has grown from US$2,8 million in 2017 to the present US$12 billion industry. Infrastructure development has been widespread with the construction of roads, schools, clinics and water and sanitation facilities. This has been through the use of our own resources and expertise. The manufacturing and tourism sectors, among others have also experienced similar growth,” said President Mnangagwa.
Turning to regional peace and stability, President Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe welcomes dialogue as a sustainable option to conflict.
“I want to commend the people and Government of Malawi for your country’s efforts, through SADC, towards “silencing the guns” in our region, specifically as part of the Force Intervention Brigade (FIB) Troop Contributing Countries in the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“Furthermore, Zimbabwe is grateful for the support that Malawi continues to provide at the bilateral, regional, continental levels, with regards the call for the removal of illegal sanctions imposed on us. We are also appreciative for SADC’s unwavering stance on this issue and continued observance of October 25 as the SADC Anti-Sanctions Day. Zimbabwe has indicated its readiness to rejoin the Commonwealth and we count on the support of Malawi in this regard,” said President Mnangagwa.
As Zimbabwe prepares for the August harmonised elections, President Mnangagwa said: “Zimbabwe will be holding the 2023 harmonised elections in August, I want to assure you that my Government has put in place mechanisms to guarantee peaceful, free, fair and credible elections as we further entrench democracy and constitutionalism.”
President Chakwera said relations between the two countries are poised to get to a higher level as evidenced by the number of MoUs signed yesterday.
“From our engagement, it shows that Malawi and Zimbabwe are one and should prosper together. We will continue working together to improve the welfare of our people. Our relationship should continue growing from strength to strength.
“I also want to appreciate Zimbabwe’s kindness at a time we were in distress, particularly when we were affected by Cyclone Freddy which was the most devastating tropical cyclone to hit us. Thank you for your magnanimity and your generosity in helping a brother and sister who was in need. You gave us a hand in our need. You taught us to be as resilient as you have demonstrated that despite the sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe, you have continued soldering on” said President Chakwera.
Both leaders later addressed people who were gathered at Kamuzu Banda International Airport where President Mnangagwa displayed his proficiencies as a multi-linguist, as he mixed English and Chewa in his address.
President Mnangagwa will today be in Blantyre where he will visit Kapeni View where together with President Chakwera will be briefed on the devastation caused by Tropical Cyclone Freddy and thereafter, President Mnangagwa will make a symbolic presentation of the relief items donated to the victims on behalf of the Government and the people of Zimbabwe.