Honourable Vice Presidents of the Republic of Zimbabwe;
Honourable Ministers from the Republic of South Africa and Zimbabwe;
The Ambassador of the Republic of South Africa to Zimbabwe, Ambassador M. N. Mbete;
The Zimbabwean Ambassador to the Republic of South Africa, Ambassador D. Hamadziripi;
Senior government officials from the Republic of South Africa and Zimbabwe;
Ladies and Gentlemen;
Comrades and Friends.
It gives me immeasurable pleasure, personally and on behalf of the government and people of Zimbabwe, to extend a hearty and fraternal welcome to you, my dear brother and the distinguished South African delegation to the Third Session of our Bi-National Commission (BNC). Your presence here today, at a time when you are in the midst of a national election campaign, is testimony of your very personal commitment to the sustenance and enhancement of the South Africa – Zimbabwe bilateral relations. We in Zimbabwe, deeply appreciate this show of friendship and solidarity. You can continue to count on us as equally committed and determined partners in the strengthening of our historically strong bonds and spirit of working together.
Much has happened within, between and beyond our countries since we last met at the Second Session of the BNC in Pretoria in 2017. This Third Session of our Bi-National Commission offers us the opportunity to collectively examine, take stock and review progress with implementing matters arising under the Agreed Minutes of our Second Session of this BNC. I wish from the onset to put it on record that in all the changes that took place in our countries, in our region and beyond, our relations have remained and continue to be excellent and solid. The temptation is there to take such principle - based outcomes for granted. But if truth be said, we have in the process warded off the machinations of those who wish our strong ties broken. While our friends are many, which we welcome, our detractors on the other hand are significant in their numbers.
Testimony of the strong ties we share is the continued principled call by your government, for the economic sanctions on Zimbabwe to be unconditionally removed. For us and all our partners, the environment in which we are operating is poisoned by the existence of the economic and financial sanctions that have been imposed and are in force against our country and its people. Their impact extends beyond our borders. We therefore deeply appreciate your call for their immediate removal.
I wish to take this opportunity to recognise and applaud the important contributions that the Republic of South Africa has made and continues to make at the continental and global levels in the promotion of peace, security and development. We are pleased that you are currently a member of the United Nations Security Council, where you have already demonstrated your unbending attachment to and respect for the UN Charter. Our contemporary world needs more, not less, multilateral cooperation. I wish also to, once again, congratulate you on your election as Chairperson of our continental organisation, the African Union, in 2020. In all these international responsibilities, you can count on our constant support. We are fully aware of the fact that your success will benefit us all.
While we missed the scheduled calendar for our BNC session last year, our engagements through exchange of visits and other interactions at all levels of our governments and among our citizens have not faltered. On the contrary, they have intensified. These interactions have enabled us to make progress in a number of areas of our bilateral cooperation. I am therefore confident that the discussions we will have today and the decisions we will take will inject new life to our bilateral cooperation and overall relations.
Since the last session of the BNC in October 2017, Zimbabwe under the 2nd Republic has embarked on significant reforms. We have adopted Vision 2030 as the destination we aspire our development process to take us to. This vision commits us to transform our country to achieve an empowered upper-middle income society by 2030. To achieve this vision, my government has lost no time in addressing matters to do with peace and stability, a politically more open and democratic society - which are essential ingredients for the success of the reforms that we have initiated and are working on. We need all Zimbabweans to work together harmoniously towards the attainment of this vision. That is why we are engaged in an all-inclusive, nationally-anchored and driven political dialogue. The doors to the dialogue process remain open to all who genuinely have the interests of the people and the country at heart. My government believes that as Zimbabweans, we must, try and find each other and resolve whatever problems we may face first before we seek the assistance of others.
In the spirit of the new dispensation, and in sync with our economic reform agenda, we have opened ourselves for business and dialogue. The “Zimbabwe is Open for Business”, is an invitation to those beyond our borders to partner us in the revival, renewal and transformation of our economy.
I wish to note that, once again, our two countries share a common aspiration to transform and grow our economies so that we create opportunities for a better life for all our people. This makes us indispensable partners in exploiting the complementarities between us. The opportunities for mutually beneficial cooperation through strategic linkages and joint ventures among our economic operators are vast. Those opportunities exist across all sectors of our two countries. I note with satisfaction that, as governments, we are creating the necessary conditions for optimum partnerships and collaboration between our primary economic actors, the private sector. I appeal to the private sector of our two countries, and the State Owned Enterprises, to look beyond elementary or rudimentary economic exchanges and forge strategic partnerships that will truly transform our national economies. That approach will enable us to effectively participate in and benefit from regional as well as continental integration processes such as the incipient African Continental Free Trade Area.
To South African investors and entrepreneurs, I reassure them of the security of their investments here in Zimbabwe. They are assured that my government is determined, through the monetary and fiscal reforms we are implementing, to eliminate the current constraints in the repatriation of investors’ earnings. We are a listening government and we are open for dialogue with investors in order to address the challenges that they may face in operating in Zimbabwe. At the same time, I want to assure South African investors in Zimbabwe that the current economic constraints my country is facing shall soon be a thing of the past. My government is a government of working Ministers and their bureaucracy. For we believe that only hard work will deliver our nation to Vision 2030.
We are enjoined and called upon to act so that tomorrow may find us each farther than today. To paraphrase the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in his exhortation, “let us, then, be up and doing”. This is most relevant to our joint work in the implementation of the more than 40 agreements that our two countries have already signed and those that we will sign. There is a time to conceptualise, a time to plan, a time to discuss and a time to roll up our sleeves and get down to serious action. The time for getting down to serious action is now, we have no more time to tarry.
In conclusion, let me extend our best wishes to the Republic of South Africa for a smooth election on 8 May 2019.
I look forward to the success of our deliberations and to the fruitfulness of our joint actions.