Zim, Botswana in high level BNC session

ZIMBABWE and Botswana are set for an historic engagement when the two countries convene the High-Level Fourth Session of the Botswana-Zimbabwe Bi-National Commission (BNC) here today.

President Mnangagwa arrived for the crucial summit yesterday and was received at the Maun International Airport by his Botswana counterpart President Mokgweetsi Masisi.

Also there to receive the President were Defence Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Ambassador Frederick Shava and several other high-level dignitaries who were part of the advance team to the meeting. 

The high-level meeting is set to further solidify the already strong bond between the two neighbouring countries and unlock new avenues for collaboration.

The meeting will also explore ways to further enhance Harare and Gaborone’s integration and cooperation across diverse sectors ranging from trade, investment, security and regional development.

Addressing the closing session of the ministerial segment of BNC yesterday, which preceded today’s high-level summit, Foreign Affairs Minister Amb Shava applauded the frank and open manner in which the two countries had carried out their deliberations.

“These candid discussions have afforded us the opportunity to attend to issues of implementation on all outstanding decisions in the various areas of our cooperation.

“This has laid a solid foundation for the forthcoming deliberations between our Heads of State.” 

Amb Shava called on both Governments to expedite the implementation of all agreements signed during previous sessions of the BNC, while fast-tracking the conclusion of the outstanding ones.

“I would like to commend the able manner in which our senior officials handled themselves in working tirelessly on issues falling under the BNC by providing a comprehensive report on the progress that we have achieved so far, as well as the work that needs to be carried out between this Fourth Session and the upcoming BNCs,” he said.

“This report will guide our implementation processes throughout the course of the next 12 months. 

“As such, we should, therefore, redouble our efforts to timeously achieve tasks that we have agreed to carry out before the convening of the next BNC Session. 

“I, therefore, challenge the respective ministries and departments to ensure that all outstanding agreements and memoranda of understanding not signed during this session will be ready for signature within the timeframe we have set for ourselves.”

Harare and Gaborone are expected to seal several deals that are geared to enhance extensive bilateral interactions during today’s summit.

Meanwhile, addressing the opening session of the ministers’ meeting yesterday morning, Amb Shava said Zimbabwe remains committed to addressing the endemic challenges of livestock rustling along its shared border with Botswana and will continue dispensing resources towards tackling the longstanding problem that has plagued communities on both sides.

He said recent efforts to curb proliferation of the menace by the Government have yielded positive results, leading to a decrease in livestock theft along the border.

“During the Third Session of the BNC, the Republic of Botswana brought to the attention of the meeting, the endemic problem of livestock rustling, particularly along our common border,” said Amb Shava. 

“The two countries initiated a joint framework for cooperation to facilitate and harmonise efforts in the fight against the problem. 

“I note with satisfaction that the joint efforts by the two police organisations and inter-state liaison operations have drastically reduced livestock rustling crime along the border. 

“It is worth noting that even if our resources as individual countries may be scarce and stretched to the limits, both countries have made sacrifices for the sake of ending this crime.” 

Amb Shava said Zimbabwe was committed to ensuring that the BNC becomes a platform for enhanced cooperation between the two countries for mutual socio-economic development.

“It is evident that there is a will and drive to ensure that our two friendly countries achieve sustainable development and economic prosperity for the benefit of our peoples. 

“I want to assure you that Zimbabwe has come to this meeting with an open mind. 

“We are ready to engage on the broad and diverse range of issues that underpin our relationship, with a view to delivering tangible results. 

“We also look forward to working closely together in addressing areas where progress has been lagging behind.”

Yesterday’s meeting, Amb Shava said, was convened to consider recommendations from the preceding senior officials’ meeting, in preparation for today’s Heads of State Summit.

“We must continue to be incisive in our work, so as to augment the efforts of our two leaders, who have risen to the challenge by enriching our relations, and strengthening our solid bilateral cooperation for this and future generations.”

He said agreements set to be signed during today’s Heads of State Summit are a reflection of Zimbabwe and Botswana’s firm political commitment to strengthen and deepen their long-standing friendly ties.

Botswana Foreign Affairs Minister Dr Lemogang Kwape said livestock rustling was adversely affecting communities living along the countries’ shared border.

“There is one major issue that continues to trouble our two countries, namely the problem of cattle rustling along our common border,” he said.

“This problem, which started as common stock theft, has since escalated into a serious organised cross-border crime. 

“It continues to rob many farmers of their livestock and condemning them to a life of poverty and destitution.

“There is, therefore, an urgent need to take action on this problem, since it has far-reaching implications not only on livelihoods of the affected communities, but also on the socio-development of our two countries.

“In this regard, there is an urgent need to conclude and sign a framework agreement on livestock rustling between the two countries.”

Zimbabwe and Botswana officially upgraded their bilateral ties to the BNC level in August 2018, marking a significant step towards strengthening the two countries’ co-operation across political, economic, and social spheres.

The First Session of the BNC was convened the following year.

Observers say elevation of the diplomatic relations signifies stronger mutual commitment to collaboration on areas of mutual interest, including trade, investment, security, and regional development.

A Bi-National Commission is a formal body established between countries to facilitate and advance cooperation and collaboration on various issues of mutual interest.

It typically involves high-level representatives from both governments, and seeks to strengthen their bilateral relationship at a strategic level.

Herald

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