President Jacob Zuma has returned to Pretoria from Harare, where he co-chaired the Inaugural Session of the South Africa-Zimbabwe Bi-National Commission (BNC).
On Thursday Zuma co-chaired the BNC with his Zimbabwe counterpart, Robert Mugabe.
“In their opening remarks, the heads of state acknowledged commitments by the two governments to further cement the historic relations that exist between them and to strengthen and deepen bilateral cooperation by elevating the Joint Commission for Cooperation (JPCC) to the BNC,” said the Presidency in a statement.
“The presidents noted that 38 Memoranda of Understanding and Agreements (MoUs) have been signed between Zimbabwe and South Africa, which cover a broad range of areas, which include among others, trade and investment, immigration and consular matters, defence, agriculture, the environment, energy, health, as well as arts and culture.”
The Presidency said Zuma and Mugabe directed the relevant ministries and departments to conclude negotiations on all outstanding agreements and memoranda.
“As part of strengthening cooperation in infrastructure development and transport, a Bilateral Air Services Agreement between the government of the Republic of South Africa and the Republic of Zimbabwe was signed by Ms Dipuo Peters, minister of transport and her counterpart, Dr Joram McDonald Gumbo, minister of transport and infrastructure development of Zimbabwe.”
Other outcomes of the BNC included the decision to establish a Joint Trade and Investment Committee by the end of the first quarter of 2017 and the urgent need for the establishment of a One Stop Border Post (OSBP) at Beitbridge-Musina.
The BNC decided to finalise the modalities for its establishment by the time of the next Bi-National Commission in 2017.
Zuma and Mugabe emphasised the importance of enhanced business-to-business interaction between Zimbabwe and South Africa and the promotion of Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) and joint ventures.
“Our business communities stand ready to play their part, if as governments, we create a conducive environment for ease of doing business, including but not limited to, the establishment of a one-stop border post for facilitation of free movement of people, goods and services, policy certainty, among others,” said Zuma.
The BNC also discussed regional, continental and global matters of mutual concern.
Zuma and Mugabe took note of the effect of the El Nino-induced drought in their respective countries and region. They stressed the importance of adopting appropriate mitigation measures.
“Our two countries should continue to strive to become leading examples on the continent, in pursuit of a peaceful, politically stable and prosperous Africa,” said Zuma.
On the global front, South Africa and Zimbabwe reiterated their common view on the need to reform multilateral institutions, particularly the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).
Zuma was accompanied by six ministers – Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, Rob Davies, Malusi Gigaba, Dipuo Peters and Mildred Oliphant.