HARARE—South African President Mr Jacob Zuma is expected in Harare today ahead of the official opening of the inaugural session of the Bi-National Commission in Harare tomorrow. The BNC is a structure through which Zimbabwe and South Africa elevated their political and economic relations to presidential level from the ministerial rank where they reposed for years.
Presidents Mugabe and Zuma co-chair the commission, which requires that the Heads of State meet annually to monitor progress on the implementation of agreed projects.
New agreements, cutting across various economic sectors, are expected to be sealed at the end of the meetings tomorrow. Foreign Affairs secretary Ambassador Joey Bimha yesterday confirmed President Zuma’s visit.
“He is coming tomorrow (today),” he said. “The Bi-National Commission started on Monday with the meeting of senior officials. Today (yesterday), they are winding up to come up with a document for presentation to the ministers who are meeting tomorrow. The Presidents will meet on Thursday.”
The idea to establish the BNC was reached when President Mugabe visited South Africa last year. According to a statement released by the South African Government, President Zuma would be accompanied by Ministers Maite Nkoana-Mashabane (International Relations and Cooperation); Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula (Defence and Military Veterans); Rob Davies (Trade and Industry); Malusi Gigaba (Home Affairs); Dipuo Peters (Transport) and Mildred Oliphant (Labour).
Over the years, Zimbabwe and South Africa have signed 38 bilateral agreements and Memoranda of Understanding covering a broad range of areas such as trade and investment, immigration and consular matters, defence, agriculture, energy, health and taxation environment among others.
The agreements were coordinated through the Joint Commission for Cooperation (JCC), which has been in existence since 1995. While some agreements have been implemented, others are pending at varying stages of readiness. Ambassador Bimha said all outstanding agreements had to be sealed and implemented. “Some plans and agreements have not progressed beyond the signed documents,” he said