President Zuma returns from a successful Inaugural Session of the South Africa-Zimbabwe Bi-National Commission

President Jacob Zuma has this afternoon returned to Pretoria following a successful conclusion of a working visit to Harare, Republic of Zimbabwe, where he attended and co-chaired the Inaugural Session of the South Africa-Zimbabwe Bi-National Commission (BNC) together with President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe.

The BNC session was preceded by the Ministerial meeting held on 02 November 2016 and the Senior Officials meeting on 31 October to 01 November 2016, respectively.

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.

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 amongst others, trade and investment, immigration and consular matters, defence, agriculture, the environment, energy, health, as well as arts and culture. In this regard, the two Presidents 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.

The two Presidents 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 President Zuma.

Furthermore, the BNC discussed regional, continental and global matters of mutual concern. The two leaders took note of the effect of the El Nino induced drought in their respective countries and the region and stressed the importance of adopting appropriate mitigation measures.

They also reaffirmed the need to sustain peace and stability for economic growth and integration in the region.

"Our two countries should continue to strive to become leading examples on the continent, in pursuit of a peaceful, politically stable and prosperous Africa," President Zuma added.

On the global front, the two Presidents reiterated their common view on the need to reform multilateral institutions, particularly the United Nations Security Council.

A Joint Communique was adopted which outlines the outcome of the deliberations and decisions taken at the BNC.

President Zuma has extended an invitation to President Mugabe to the next session of the Bi-National Commission to be held in South Africa in 2017 at a date to be mutually agreed.

President Zuma was accompanied by Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation; Ms Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, Minister of Defence and Military Veterans; Dr Rob Davies, Minister of Trade and Industry; Mr Malusi Gigaba, Minister of Home Affairs; Ms Dipuo Peters, Minister of Transport; and Ms Mildred Oliphant, Minister of Labour.

Source: The Presidency Republic of South Africa.

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