sadc-symbol.jpgForeign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi has expressed gratitude to SADC for its consistency and persistence in calling for the removal of the illegal western sanctions against Zimbabwe.

Cde Mumbengegwi was speaking during the opening of the 11th Zimbabwe-Botswana Permanent Joint Commission in Harare.

In his remarks to Mr Phandu Skelemani, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Botswana, who was leading a strong delegation that included the Permanent Secretary of the Botswana Foreign Ministry, and the Zimbabwean side led by Permanent Secretary Ambassador Joey Bimha, Minister Mumbengegwi outlined how SADC and the rest of the progressive world has used every opportunity to call for the removal of the illegal sanctions and how at its August summit last year, it set up a SADC group to engage the international community on the issue of sanctions on Zimbabwe.

Minister Mumbengegwi noted that although both the EU and the United States and their allies have maintained that they stand guided by SADC on the issue of Zimbabwe, the westerners have not heeded the SADC calls for the removal of the sanctions.

Cde Mumbengegwi expressed Zimbabwe’s appreciation to SADC for the concrete political and material support availed to the country by the regional bloc, a development which he said has been a source of inspiration and pillar of strength for Zimbabwe.

Individually, through a SADC facility, Botswana extended a credit line to the tune of 500 million pula to assist towards economic recovery, following the crippling effects of sanctions, in response to the call made by SADC Heads of State and Government Summit in Swaziland in 2009.

Botswana Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Mr Phandu Skelemani saluted officials from both the Zimbabwean and Botswana sides for quickly implementing projects agreed upon during the last session, saying it is only through materialisation of the proposed bilateral programmes that can benefit the people of the two countries.

He said despite the effects of climate change, Zimbabwe still has the potential and ability to become the region’s bread basket if given the necessary conditions, resources and support.

These include the signing of the bilateral trade agreement between Zimbabwe and Botswana, to increase the levels of trade through elimination of impediments, the implementation of the energy projects including the cross border electricity supply at Pandamatenga and Kazungula and refurbishment of the Bulawayo Thermal Power Station which is at an advanced stage.

Industry and International Trade Minister, Professor Welshman Ncube and his Botwsana counterpart , Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to Botswana, Mr Thomas Mandigora and officials from both sides took part in the joint commission.