Botswana: Commission to Benefit Citizenry

Harare — President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi is in Zimbabwe for today's inaugural meeting of the Botswana-Zimbabwe Bi-National Commission that is expected to improve the lives of the people of both countries.

The commission is an upgrade from the Joint Permanent Commission on Cooperation which was only at ministerial level.

Permanent secretary in the Ministry of International Affairs and Cooperation, Mr Gaeimelwe Goitsemang said in an interview that initially Botswana and Zimbabwe had two major bilateral frameworks, one being joint permanent commission on cooperation and the other on defence and security.

He said President Dr Masisi and his counterpart Mr Emmerson Mnangagwa signed for the establishment of the commission at the 38th SADC summit in Namibia last year.

The commission is a merger of the two bilateral frameworks, he explained.

Mr Goitsemang said the presidents would during today's inaugural ceremony have an opportunity to exchange views on bilateral and international issues of mutual interest.

"The Bi-National Commission demonstrates the value which the two countries attach to relations with each other and goes to demonstrate, strengthen the relations and areas of cooperation of the two countries," he said.

He said this was the second such commission Botswana had in the region after the one signed with South Africa.

Mr Goitsemang pointed out that Botswana collaborated with Zimbabwe in almost all sectors and that a number of agreements had been reached on various areas critical on advancing relations of the two countries.

The meeting would end with the signing of memoranda of understanding in different fields to operationalise the commission he said.

Among the MoUs to be signed, Mr Goitsemang said, would be one of agriculture and mining rules of procedure as well as others on education and setting the time lines in the area of trade and economic diplomacy.

An extradition treaty would also be signed, he said.

In another interview, Zimbabwe secretary for Foreign Affairs and International Trade Mr James Manzou said the commission was a demonstration of the excellent relations between the two presidents and points to the future of intensified cooperation between the two countries.

"As Zimbabwe, we are of the same political relation with Botswana and we are to work on our economic relations for the benefit of the two peoples," he said.

He said economic diplomacy was a major focus of their engagements as the two neighbours should broaden the agenda to see how they could assist each other to increase trade.

"It is the private sector who make sure that the relationships bear fruit and therefore the two country private sectors have a key role to play," he said.

He said it has been recommended that the Zimbabwe private sector engage their Batswana counterparts for the country's trade fair.

Today's session was preceded by meetings of senior officials and ministers held April 25-26 April 27 respectively.

<i>Source : BOPA</i>

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