Zimbabwe / South Africa officials to meet ahead of Ramaphosa visit


The Chronicle

Harare Bureau
Zimbabwean and South African officials will meet next week as preparations for the visit of South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa to his northern neighbors gather momentum.

President Ramaphosa will visit Zimbabwe on March 12 for the third session of the two countries' Bi-National Commission (BNC) and Zimbabwe's Ambassador to South Africa Mr David Hamadziripi said yesterday that preparations for the visit were underway in both Harare and Pretoria.

The two countries held their last BNC in October 2017 and the visit by President Ramaphosa will lift the already existing strong bilateral relations.

"We are going to have meetings with relevant South African officials next week to prepare for the BNC," he said.

"It is important to note that the BNC, which last met in Pretoria in October 2017, will review co-operation across the board.

"We expect trade and investment, energy, transport, health, security and defense among others to be the major talking points."

He said one of the major issues expected to dominate the discussions was the establishment of a One Stop Border Post (OSBP) at Beitbridge.

Under the concept travelers will be cleared once for the passage into either country as opposed to the current situation where travelers have to queue twice on either side of the border to complete the same processes, which slows the movement of cargo and human traffic.

Zimbabwe and South Africa enjoy cordial relations dating back to the days of their struggle for liberation.

It is likely to be a strong geopolitical flair as South Africa, the most influential neighbor and Africa's strongest economy, is likely to throw weight behind Zimbabwe on the back of external pressure against the country, particularly regarding the illegal sanctions imposed on the country by the West .

Last week, the 28-member European Union blocked its restrictive measures on Zimbabwe, which was but a small token against opposition to the embargo from progressive forces.

South Africa's Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Lindiwe Sisulu this week revealed that South Africa remained ready to help Zimbabwe, underscoring that the regional giant had a strong interest in having Zimbabwe as a peaceful and prosperous neighborhood.

She said of sanctions against Zimbabwe was central to this and that sanctions would feature in the talks between Presidents Mnangagwa and Ramaphosa.

President Ramaphosa has been a strident anti-Zimbabwe sanctions campaigner himself.

Last month, he took the campaign to the 49th edition of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, where he publicly called for lifting the embargo.

Last year, he also called on the European Union (EU) to lift sanctions on Zimbabwe during the 7th South Africa-EU Summit in Brussels, Belgium, where they discussed a number of issues around trade, climate change, women's rights among other global issues.

The EU and the United States of America maintain sanctions on Zimbabwe, with the EU progressively loosened the measures.

The US remains adamant, tying the punishment of Zimbabwe and Zanu-PF to give an advantage to the opposition MDC-Alliance.


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