Nduduzo Tshuma in Victoria Falls
PRESIDENT Mnangagwa has hailed the cordial and fruitful relations between Zimbabwe and Botswana saying the two countries’ continued high level engagements on mutual co-operation is testimony of the unbreakable bond that binds the two nations and their people.
He said the outbreak of Covid-19, increasing frequency of climate change-induced natural disasters and the threat of terrorism are a wake-up call on the urgent need for stronger and mutual beneficial cooperation among African countries and the world at large.
Speaking during a State Banquet hosted in honour of his Botswana counterpart President Masisi here on Thursday night, President Mnangagwa said no nation can address these challenges alone.
Hence, he said, co-operation at both multilateral and bilateral level gives impetus to countries to face and address all challenges with greater resilience and collective capacities.
The state banquet came on the eve of the official opening of the Third Session of the Zimbabwe/Botswana Bi-National Commission yesterday.
“I greatly appreciate that you (President Masisi) were able to honour the invitation to this important meeting, despite other pressing commitments and the continuing hovering threat of the pandemic.
“We in Zimbabwe, value the cordial and fruitful relations between our two countries, which are growing from strength to strength.
Your presence here together with your high-powered delegation is a clear testimony of the unbreakable bond that binds our two countries and peoples,” said President Mnangagwa.
“As we scale up our relations, it remains important that the impact of our co-operation be felt across all levels of our communities from the grassroots right up to the national levels.
Stronger relations between Zimbabwe and Botswana must ultimately serve as building blocks towards accelerating our integration in the Sadc region and the continent at large.”
He said the realisation of the Sadc Vision 2050 and the goals of the African Union Agenda 2063 are only possible when member countries work together with unity of purpose as Zimbabwe and Botswana are doing.
“I note with satisfaction that our countries are working closely towards increasing cooperation in agriculture development and food security as one of the key pillars of national development.
“ . . . Meanwhile, Zimbabwe remains open for business.
I once again invite companies from Botswana to come to Zimbabwe and explore the many available investment opportunities for our business communities and further translate into concrete investments,” said the President.
He paid tribute to President Masisi for his speech at the United Nations General Assembly last year calling for the removal of sanctions against Zimbabwe by some Western countries as he appreciated Sadc’s continued support and solidarity through its emphatic calls for the lifting of the embargo.
“As we face present and any future challenges, let us remain emboldened by the spirit of our founding fathers of our region that entails that, ‘an injury to one is an injury to all’ as it was during the struggle for the liberation and independence, so this is to say, ‘united we stand, divided we fall’,” said the President.
President Masisi said paid tribute to President Mnangagwa the royal treatment he, and his delegation received from Zimbabwe since the start of the meetings at the beginning of the week.
He revealed that when he ascended to the leadership of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), the party made a deliberate policy decision to improve relations with Zimbabwe, a shift of stance from his predecessor and former President Ian Khama.
“Upon assumption of office on the first of April 2018 and preceding our general elections, we as the new leadership gravitated the direction of our political party first, the BDP, along a new course of direction which is reflected in the way we relate to Zimbabwe different from the way we used to.
That was not an accident, it was out of deliberate, logically thought through, determined change of course of action,” said President Masisi.
“And so we changed course and decided we are going to embrace you with our bosoms.”
He spoke of his friendly relations with President Mnangagwa adding that it was important for Zimbabwe and Botswana to embrace each other for this benefit of the countries and its people.
He said Botswana, going into the future, committed itself to a knowledge based economy, the same course that Zimbabwe has taken and was banking on the country’s experience and resilience for direction.
President Masisi said in private discussions with President Mnangagwa soon after their arrival here in on Thursday, the two leaders agreed on broadening the aspect of research collaboration.
“Tell the world it is no accident that Botswana is next to Zimbabwe and Zimbabwe next to Botswana.
Tell the world that it’s no accident that we are related, tell the world that it is no accident that we are together and what you feel as pain and anguish as Zimbabwe, we feel, what you feel as happiness and excitement extends to us, what you feel as prosperity is our prosperity.
“This extends to our policy, international relations, economic activities and these are documented and we must thrash out through instruments of cooperation such as Sadc, African Union Agenda 2063 and Bi-National Commission.”
President Masisi committed to ensuring that Zimbabweans find easy entry into Botswana to conduct business.
He said the BDP deserves a place among the liberation movements of southern Africa as it facilitated the liberation of the region
“The only difference, and it is a distinct criterial difference, we did not bear arms, we bore our wisdom, humility, suave and we were brutally punished for it but we did not give up. So yes, you can go ahead and call us comrades,” said President Masisi.
Both leaders expressed commitment to peace and stability in the region, continent and beyond.
Meanwhile, the banquet was punctuated by jokes, laughter, sharing of history showing the close relations between President Mnangagwa and his Botswana counterpart.
President Mnangagwa jokingly said the recent loss of the Zimbabwe women’s soccer team to Botswana was deliberate.
“By the way Your Excellency, the defeat suffered by our Zimbabwe National Women’s team the ‘Mighty Warriors to ‘The Zebras’ of Botswana was purely in the spirit of good neighbourliness and towards ensuring that you are not sorrowful during this important session,” chuckled the President.
Article Source: The Chronicle