SA, Zimbabwe set for inaugural ministerial session

Pretoria - International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane will today co-chair the inaugural ministerial session of the Zimbabwe-South Africa Bi-National Commission (BNC) in Harare ahead of the Heads of State session scheduled for Thursday.

The Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) on Wednesday said the Minister will co-chair the session with Zimbabwean Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi.

It is expected that the Ministers will consider and adopt the draft agreed minutes and joint communique negotiated by senior officials on 31 October - 01 November 2016, as well as the agenda and programme for the Heads of State session.

South Africa and Zimbabwe have good bilateral political, economic and social relations that are underpinned by strong historical ties dating back from the years of the liberation struggle, said DIRCO.

The two countries decided to elevate their structured bilateral cooperation through an annual BNC, whose agreement was signed in 2015 during President Mugabe's State visit to South Africa.

The main objective of the inaugural session of the BNC is to deepen bilateral relations and cooperation between the two countries, and to strengthen and develop the potential that exists for closer ties in the fields of trade, investment, mining, water, energy, infrastructure development, transport, and information communication technology (ICT), among others.

To date, the two countries have signed more than 38 memoranda of understanding and agreements, which cover a broad range of areas, including trade and investment, immigration and consular matters, defence, agriculture, the environment, energy, health, as well as arts and culture.

South Africa is one of the top investors in the Zimbabwean economy. The trade balance is positively in South Africa's favour. In 2015, South African exports to Zimbabwe amounted to approximately R25.6 billion, while imports amounted to approximately R4.3 billion, indicating an improvement compared to the preceding year.

At present, a number of South African companies continue to operate in Zimbabwe principally in the mining, manufacturing, tourism, and agriculture, banking and retail sectors. South African companies currently operating in Zimbabwe include Anglo American, Implats (Zimplats), PPC Cement, Old Mutual, ABSA, Stanbic, Tiger Brands, Bell Equipment Ltd and Murray & Roberts, among others.

On Thursday, President Jacob Zuma is expected to co-chair the inaugural session of the Zimbabwe-South Africa BNC together with President Robert Mugabe.

The South African delegation to the ministerial session of the BNC will comprises Minister Nkoana-Mashabane, Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula; Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies; Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba; Transport Minister Dipuo Peters and Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant. -

Source: South African Government News Agency