Zim, SA sign five new agreements

Pretoria – Zimbabwe and South Africa on Tuesday signed five new Memoranda of Understanding at the annual Bi-National Commission (BNC) as the two countries committed to deepening economic relations by removing impediments to bilateral trade and investment.

The BNC, which is in its second year after its inauguration in Harare last year, is co-chaired by Presidents Robert Mugabe and Jacob Zuma.

The five new MOUs cover cooperation on cross border coordination on frequency spectrum, information communication technologies, environment and conservation, energy as well as sports and recreation.

It brings the tally of agreements and MOUs signed under the BNC to over 45.

In a joint communiqué, read by South Africa’s International Relations and Cooperation Minister, Maite Nkoana-Mashababe at the end of the second session of the BNC, the two countries announced establishment of a Joint Technical Committee to create a legal framework for operationalizing a One Stop Border Post at Beitbridge.

“The two Heads of State reaffirmed the strategic importance of the One Stop Border Post and directed the relevant Ministers to fast tract its operationalization,” read part of the communiqué.

Beitbridge is Africa’s busiest port and besides connecting Zimbabwe with South Africa, it is also the gateway to countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi and Zambia.

Establishment of the OSBP is seen as a means to cut red tape and ensure smooth flow of traffic at the border.

At the moment, heavy vehicles spend over a week before getting clearance to proceed at the port.

South Africa is Zimbabwe’s biggest trade partner.

Speaking earlier at the opening of the BNC, the two Heads of State reiterated the importance of ensuring the platform was not just a talk shop, calling on the Ministers and officials to ensure signed agreements were implemented.

Meanwhile, Mashabane said the two leaders reviewed the unstable political situation in Lesotho and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

President Zuma is the current chairman of the Southern African Development Community.

“The two Presidents welcomed the admission of Comoros into the SADC family,” Mashabane said, adding they had also congratulated Angola’s new President, Joao Lourenco on his recent election and inauguration. -New Ziana

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