South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa has arrived in the country ahead of the official opening of the third session of the Zimbabwe-South Africa Bi-National Commission (BNC) set for tomorrow.

He was met at the Robert Mugabe International Airport by his counterpart, President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, Vice President Kembo Mohadi, Defence Minister Oppah Muchinguri Kashiri, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Dr Sibusiso Moyo, South African Minister of International Affairs and Cooperation Lindiwe Sisulu, Zimbabwe’s Deputy Minister of Information Cde Energy Mutodi, SADC Ambassadors accredited to Zimbabwe and other senior government officials.

The Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services confirmed that President Mnangagwa will host a banquet in honour of President Ramaphosa this evening.

The BNC opened in Harare this morning with a meeting of senior officials which called for vigorous implementation of bilateral agreements between the two countries.

Zimbabwe’s Foreign Affairs and International Trade Secretary Ambassador James Manzou and his counterpart, South African Director-General of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation Mr Kgabo Mahoai officially opened the meeting.

So far, 45 agreements and memoranda have been signed between the two sister republics but no significant progress had been registered on the implementation side.

More agreements are expected to be signed during this third session with the two countries emphasising on a programme of action to implement the agreements.

“In his opening remarks, Ambassador Manzou said: “The success of our cooperation will not be measured by the number of agreements we sign or the number of decisions that we take. It will be measured by the action and the concrete results that can be attributed to it. This means the implementation of those agreements and decisions.

“I therefore appeal to all of us today to henceforth make implementation and more implementation the motto of our Bi-National Commission.”

Ambassador Manzou said the 45 memoranda and agreements between Harare and Pretoria were a catalyst for joint projects between the two countries.

He said the two countries shared similar economic challenges hence the need for closer cooperation to transform their economies based on accelerated industrial development.

“At the second session, motivated by a desire to give an impetus to the implementation of the agreed projects, we agreed on a implementation matrix as a useful tool for monitoring and tracking progress of lack of progress in the implementation of decisions,” said Ambassador Manzou.

“We have so far not fully operationalised the implementation matrix. I call on both our countries to operationalise this matrix as from the closure of this session next week.”

He hailed the sound relationship in the tourism sectors of the two countries through the Joint Tourism Technical Committee adding that the security services of the two countries had also forged an exemplary relationship.

In his remarks, Mr Mahoai said: “It is our firm belief that our bilateral partnership within the framework of the Bi-National Commission will bring tangible mutual benefits to our respective countries as we address our developmental challenges. We will be assessed in terms of our action, not in terms of what we say. Our relationship with Zimbabwe covers a wide range of scope of fields. This senior officials’ meeting will be the first in which we will focus on ensuring that whatever we say here, whatever we write in our papers should mean business and should mean that which we will be measured and that which can be proud about. We are under pressure to deliver on the decisions and targets we have set for ourselves.”

The BNC is the highest bilateral framework of co-operation between Zimbabwe and South Africa and the second session of the BNC between the two countries was last convened in South Africa in October 2017.