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South Africa : International Relations on inaugural session of South Africa-Zimbabwe Bi-National Commission.

At the invitation of the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, His Excellency Robert Gabriel Mugabe, the President of the Republic of South Africa, His Excellency Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma, attended and co-chaired the Inaugural Session of the Bi-National Commission Summit which was held in Harare, Zimbabwe on 03 November 2016.

The Bi-National Commission Summit (BNC) was immediately preceded by the Ministerial meeting on 02 November and the Senior Officials meeting from 31 October to 01 November 2016, respectively.

The two Heads of State expressed satisfaction with the strong historical and fraternal relations existing between the two countries and reiterated their commitment to continue to enhance these relations. They also reviewed a wide range of regional and international issues.

The Commission noted the progress made in strengthening bilateral cooperation in sectors such as trade, investment, finance, health, labour, education, training, women and gender, sport and recreation, mining, tourism, energy, transport, infrastructure development, information communication technology, science and technology, tourism, immigration, defence and security. They also called for enhanced cooperation in agriculture, food security, housing and SMEs/SMMEs development.

The Commission also expressed satisfaction with the excellent cooperation in defence and security and encouraged the respective agencies to continue to collaborate on issues of mutual concern.

The two Heads of State noted the growing economic cooperation between the two countries. In this regard, it was agreed to establish a Joint Trade and Investment Committee by the end of the first quarter of 2017.

The Heads of State emphasised the importance of business to business interaction and the promotion of Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) and joint ventures.

The two Heads of State discussed the implementation of the SADC Protocol on Trade and the Bilateral Trade Agreement between Zimbabwe and South Africa, including various Statutory Instruments adopted by Zimbabwe related to import control management.

The two Heads of State noted that 38 Agreements and Memoranda of Understanding have been signed between the two countries to date. The two Heads of State urged the various departments to implement as a matter of urgency the Agreements and Memoranda already concluded between the two countries. The Heads of State expressed concern over delays in concluding a number of Agreements and Memoranda and directed the relevant Ministries and Departments to conclude negotiations on all outstanding Agreements and Memoranda.

The Bi-National Commission highlighted the urgent need for the establishment of a One Stop Border Post (OSBP) at Beitbridge-Musina as decided by the Joint Permanent Commission at Victoria Falls in 2009. To that end, the Commission decided to finalise the modalities for its establishment by the time of the next Bi-National Commission in 2017.

The Commission noted that illegal trade in ivory and other wildlife products remains a concern for both countries. The two countries agreed to further collaborate in finding solutions to the illegal wildlife trade challenges including through joint law enforcement operations.

The two Heads of State took note of the effects of the El Nino induced drought in their respective countries and the region. They stressed the importance of adopting appropriate mitigation measures. They further expressed their concern at the socio-economic impact of the drought.

The two Heads of State called for further progress in the implementation of the SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap. In this context they looked forward to the adoption of the Costed Action Plan for the implementation of the Strategy and Roadmap at the forthcoming SADC Extraordinary Summit to be held in March 2017.

The two Heads of State also exchanged views on the political and security developments in the region. In this regard, they reaffirmed the need to sustain peace and stability for the economic growth and integration of the region.

The two Heads of State condemned the upsurge of terrorism and extremism in some regions of the continent and they called for enhanced cooperation by AU Member States and other stakeholders in combating the scourge.

The two Heads of State expressed concern over the migration crisis affecting certain parts of the African continent and called for the humane treatment of migrants.

The two Heads of State reaffirmed their support for the SADC candidate for the post of the AU Commission Chairperson, Dr. Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Botswana. They also noted that Zimbabwe had two candidates for the positions of Commissioner for Political Affairs and Commissioner for Social Affairs.

With regards to the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic, the Heads of State reiterated their support for the right to self-determination of the Saharawi people. They emphasized the need for Africa to speak with the same voice on this matter and highlight the plight of the Saharawi people.

The two Heads of State noted Moroccos application to join the AU and welcomed the statement by the AU Commission Chairperson highlighting the procedures for membership.

Regarding the question of Palestine, the two Heads of State reaffirmed their support for a credible and comprehensive peace process, with a view to achieving a just and lasting solution.

The two Heads of State reiterated their common view on the need to reform the multilateral institutions, particularly the United Nations Security Council. They reaffirmed the Ezulwini Consensus as the common African position.

The two Heads congratulated Mr. Antonio Guterres, the newly appointed Secretary General of the United Nations.

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Publication:Mena Report
Geographic Code:6ZIMB
Date:Nov 4, 2016
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