Wednesday, 13 March 2019 09:34


Honourable Lindiwe Sisulu, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of the Republic of South Africa and Co-Chairperson of the Ministerial segment of the 3rd Session of the Zimbabwe-South Africa Bi-National Commission.

Honourable Ministers here present;

Co-Chairs of the Senior Officials

Your Excellencies Ambassadors Mbete and Hamadziripi 

Senior Officials,

Distinguished Delegates,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Comrades and Friends.


Let me once again welcome you, my Dear Sister and colleague, and your entire delegation to Zimbabwe on the occasion of the 3rd Session of the Zimbabwe-South Africa Bi-National Commission. It is my sincere hope that you will find the working facilities we have put at your disposal satisfactory.

Dear Sister and Co-Chair,

We meet here today to lay the groundwork for the very important meeting between our Principals tomorrow which marks the apex of our BNC. I am pleased that in the past three years since our inaugural BNC Session in Pretoria the cooperation between our sister Republics has continued to evolve and grow to new heights. This is evidenced by the wide range of agenda issues before this BNC Session. Our special relations, that are tethered by a common heritage have been refined and perfected over centuries through blood and cultural ties, and common struggles for dignity, equality and self-determination. The strong bonds these ties bestow on us and our commitment to the guiding ideals of our common political struggle continue to act as a moral compass for our peoples whose fate is intricately intertwined.  We shared the trenches as we fought a common enemy – foreign dominance through a system of racial discrimination and subjugation. Our partnership, should therefore, have in mind that a prosperous Zimbabwe makes for a prosperous South Africa and vice-versa. History has dictated that we should continue to share the trenches in our common struggle for economic emancipation and socio-economic progress till the attainment of a high quality of life for the people of South Africa and Zimbabwe.

Dear Sister and Co-Chair,

As we continue to break new ground within the framework of our bilateral cooperation, I am delighted to note that we have registered tangible progress delivered from our agreements and MoUs which form the building blocks of our BNC. I hope our two sides have been making use of the Joint Implementation Matrix, which we developed to monitor the implementation of our agreements.  Indeed, successes have been registered but, we must not rest on our laurels. Delivering concrete results for the benefit of our people and countries from this relationship remains our paramount objective bestowed upon us by our leaders and by history.  Thus, we carry on our shoulders, an enormous responsibility to shape the trajectories of our two countries for generations to come through political and economic concert. The BNC, which represents the pinnacle of bilateral cooperation, is the primary vehicle for that shared destiny. We, therefore, expect to receive from our officials today, progress reports on implementation of our agreements as well as proposals for new areas of cooperation that will add impetus to this multi-dimensional relationship. 

It is expected that our two countries will sign some Agreements and Memoranda of Understanding in a number of areas during this third session. These Agreements, once signed, will pave way for bolstering cooperation between us in strategic sectors of our economies which are vital for socio-economic transformation. A major driver of this transformation is trade, which has become a major focus of cooperation between our countries.  In this regard, I wish to express my gratitude to the Republic of South Africa for the understanding they have shown as Zimbabwe continues on its path to economic revival. Our economic revival program prioritizes the revival of local industries. At times this demands creating conditions that enable them to recover from ashes as it were and grow to a level where they are able to compete fairly against regional competitors. It is my sincere belief that the temporal measures taken by our trade experts will ultimately bring value not only to South Africa, but to the rest of our friends in the sub-region.

A stronger Zimbabwe is one that is capacitated to effectively partner South Africa in shouldering the burden of leading the SADC region towards prosperity. It is for this reason that South Africa should find it in its interest to create an environment and conditions that stimulate a quick turnaround of Zimbabwe’s economy. Furthermore, it goes without saying that in trade terms; a stronger Zimbabwe offers an expanded market for South African manufactured products. In this connection, I note with satisfaction that our trade experts are working to address trade issues of interest to South Africa through the trade thematic committee of the BNC. The aim of the experts is to achieve common understanding on how we jointly promote our bilateral trade in the medium and long terms.

Dear Sister and Co-Chair,

We cannot talk about trade without discussing Infrastructure Development since it is a pre-requisite for the efficient movement of goods and services between any trading partners. Infrastructure Development is a fundamental priority reflected in Zimbabwe’s Transitional Stabilization Programme which is the first economic blueprint of Zimbabwe’s 2nd Republic. Under that Economic Blueprint, His Excellency President E.D. Mnangagwa seeks to modernize and upgrade the country's border posts starting with the Beitbridge border post which marks the boundary between our two countries.  Refurbishment of this important border post is a key priority project for expanding the North-South Corridor. You will therefore note Zimbabwe’s interest in the construction of the long delayed One Stop Border Post at Beitbridge and Musina.  Its operationalisation will ensure elimination of bottle necks whose delays are a cause of frustration to travelers and transporters at one of Africa's busiest border posts. I trust that our respective officials working on this issue are making progress so that soon we can talk of practical time-frames of activating the One Stop Border Post which remains a stumbling block for greater trading prospects on the North-South Corridor.

Let me add, that I am also pleased that our negotiators met just last month in Harare to try and iron out the hurdles that are impeding the conclusion of the recapitalization project of the National Railways of Zimbabwe. I am aware that The DIDG and its Transnet Board of Directors (accompanied by South African Ambassador to Zimbabwe MN Mbete), recently visited Zimbabwe to testify to the fact that they were committed to seeing out the transaction. Their anxiety to receive official confirmation that the Zimbabwean side will give the requested 6 months extension of the Framework Agreement has been received by the government of Zimbabwe which shall finally pave the way for work on the project to progress smoothly.


As I stated earlier, His Excellency President E.D. Mnangagwa has singled out Infrastructure Development as a priority. I, therefore, hope that the negotiators who met again during this BNC can accelerate the implementation of this deal that will further unlock economic opportunities linked to the rail transport sub-sector.  

Dear Sister and Co-Chair,

I am pleased that the Business Forum, involving business communities from our two countries kicked off successfully and I hope this could be a permanent feature of our successive BNCs. This is testament that our strong political relations have graduated into a vibrant economic partnership between our two peoples. I, therefore, wish to take this opportunity to encourage more South African businesses to take advantage of the varied incentives provided for by Special Economic Zones and invest in Zimbabwe. These incentives include among others duty-free importation of capital equipment and tax holidays. The Special Economic Zones that we aim to set up in the country's 10 Provinces offer an opportunity to create cross border value chains though partnerships between Zimbabwean companies and South African investors in areas that include mining and engineering, beef, leather, textile and clothing.


As I conclude, I would like to urge our officials to re-double efforts to conclude our agreements as it appears a number are still outstanding from our previous BNC session. It is my hope that this session can set time frames for their completion and operationalization before the next session of the BNC.  It would blemish our successes if we can not show progress to our Heads of State year-in and year-out.  I therefore urge you my Dear Sister, and your delegation to join hands with me and my delegation as we push this development agenda before us to higher levels.


Co- Chair, with these few remarks, allow me to declare this Ministerial Segment of the 3rd Zimbabwe-South Africa Bi-National Commission officially open.


Co-Chair, Honourable Ministers,


I thank you