Zimbabwe and Botswana have agreed to establish a Bi-National Commission (BNC) to be convened at heads of state and government level, a step that is expected to enhance bilateral cooperation across all sectors of development.

This was revealed by leaders of the two countries at a luncheon hosted for President Emmerson Mnangagwa by his Botswana counterpart, President Ian Khama at the Grand Palm Hotel this afternoon. 

Addressing invited guests and ambassadors accredited to Botswana, President Mnangagwa paid tribute to the new chapter of friendship and cooperation which is unfolding, saying the relationship has its roots in the sacrifices made by Botswana when it assisted Zimbabwe attain its independence.

The Zimbabwean leader said as the two countries work to revive bilateral relations, it is critical that the Zimbabwe – Botswana Joint Permanent Commission on Cooperation (JPCC) be elevated to become a BNC to allow for greater cooperation across all sectors and pave way for the commencement of a new economic era in the cooperation of the two governments.

He applauded progress achieved with regards to numerous agreements and memoranda of understanding that have been discussed over the past few days by the two governments and are now ready for signing.

“It is also important that we leave the past behind and look to the future with hope,” said President Mnangagwa.

He also appraised the guests on political events that occurred in Zimbabwe in November last year and thanked Botswana and other countries in the SADC region and various stakeholders for their support as well as the people of Zimbabwe for remaining peaceful during and after the transitional period.

On this year’s general elections, Cde Mnangagwa reiterated that his government will put in place measures that will ensure credible, transparent, free, fair and democratic elections in line with the SADC and AU guidelines and standards on the conduct of elections.

He also promised that he will soon be making the necessary proclamations regarding the holding of elections.

The President, who has adopted a new shift which is more receptive towards the observation of elections, said the government of Zimbabwe will invite interested organisations from across the world to observe the elections.

He then talked about foreign direct investment (FDI) which is a catalyst in improving the country’s economy, saying his government will continue to improve the investment climate and ease of doing business to make Zimbabwe an attractive investment destination.

The government is also committed to respecting property rights under the framework of the Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements (BIPPAs) and the right of investors to repatriate their profits within the confines of the country’s laws, noted Cde Mnangagwa.

At the luncheon, Zimbabwe extended an invitation to Botswana companies to take advantage of the new investor friendly environment in the country and help exploit the vast mineral resources that Zimbabwe has to offer.

Botswana’s economy, which is anchored on mining, is ranked among the top performing economies in the region and Zimbabwe is eager to deepen cooperation with Botswana through sharing of knowledge, latest technologies and innovations especially in the diamond mining sector. 

In response, President Khama described President Mnangagwa’s visit as historic, saying it provides a fresh impetus for the revitalisation and consolidation of relations that exist between the two countries.

The Botswana leader said his country is very pleased that Cde Mnangagwa accepted the invitation to visit Botswana on a state visit, a gesture that was last exchanged more than 10 years ago.

He lamented the rift that had developed between the two countries, saying it was not good for the promotion and sustenance of the spirit of good neighbourliness.

President Mnangagwa’s state visit is the first by a Zimbabwean leader during Khama’s presidency and the Botswana leader said it is unfortunate that he was never invited to Zimbabwe for a state visit either.

“Your ascendency to the highest office in Zimbabwe gives a renewed sense of hope which was clearly articulated in your message of reconciliation that you shared during your inauguration,” said President Khama.

The Botswana leader also noted Zimbabwe’s great potential and expressed optimism that the policy prescriptions and economic recovery path being pursued by the new administration will yield intended results.

He said to achieve that Zimbabwe will require assistance not only from the SADC region but the rest of the international community.