president mugabe and king mswati.jpgThe Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, President Robert Mugabe is expected to deliver his keynote address and hand over stewardship of COMESA to Swaziland’s King Mswati III when the summit opens today.

 

The leaders are expected to discuss the state and progress of integration following the launch of the Free Trade Area in October 2000 and a Customs Union last year, but which is expected to be fully operational by the year 2012. 

The debate on science and technology will take centre stage.

 

Discussion will also be held regarding the economic partnership agreements.

 

Other issues are the status of the COMESA, East African Community and the SADC Tripartite Arrangement, where concurrent integration process is supposed to take place among the three African economic-regional groupings, with the objective of attaining African integration.

 

President Mugabe was among leaders who attended the annual Umhlanga Reed Dance held at Ludzidzi Stadium outside Mbabane yesterday.

 

Other leaders who attended the reed dance were Presidents Bingu wa Mutharika of Malawi and Mwai Kibaki of Kenya.

 

President Mugabe arrived in Swaziland yesterday and was met at Manzini International Airport by Cde Patrick Chinamasa, Cde Sithembiso Nyoni, Dr Olivia Muchena, Cde Nicholas Goche, Dr Heneri Dzinotyiweyi, Mr Tapiwa Mashakada, Cde Simbarashe Mumbengegwi and the Swazi Prime Minister, Barnabas Dlamini.

 

This year’s COMESA summit is being held under the theme, “Harnessing Science and Technology for Development.’’  

 

Under the chairmanship of President Mugabe, a one-stop border post was established between Zambia and Zimbabwe at Chirundu, to expedite the movement of goods and services in the North-South Corridor. 

 

The one-stop border post was born out of the Comesa Council of Ministers’ meeting in 2005 in Kigali, Rwanda, where it was recognised that the flow of trade in the North–South Corridor could be enhanced by establishing a one-stop border post in the eastern and southern African region.

 

Zimbabwe has raked in US$145 million from COMESA exports in the first half of the year compared to US$96 million in the same period last year.

This was revealed ahead of the Comesa summit at Ezulwini , 16 kilometres from the Swazi capital, Mbabane, by the COMESA Secretary General, Mr Sindiso Ngwenya.

He said COMESA will work with the Zimbabwean government in facilitating the recovery of industries through mobilising funds as well providing technical assistance.

Meanwhile, more than 50 local companies are taking part at the annual Swaziland Trade Fair at  Manzini in a move aimed at broaderning the scope of business as well as unlocking export opportunities.