The officials preparatory meeting of the inaugural Zimbabwe –Botswana Bi-National Commission (BNC) opened in Harare this Monday morning with permanent secretaries of the ministries of foreign affairs of the two countries exhorting the relevant government departments in charge of implementing the agreed cooperation bilateral projects to move with speed and produce tangible results for the benefit of the peoples of the two countries.

In their addresses at the opening session of the preparatory meeting, the permanent secretaries of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade of Zimbabwe Ambassador James Manzou and his Botswana Counterpart Mr Gaeimelwe Goitsemang agreed that the elevated bilateral ties between Zimbabwe and Botswana, the Bi-National Commission is an affirmation of the desire to enhance existing strong ties and to amplify the potential for cooperation.

Zimbabwe-Botswana Bi-National Commission replaced the Joint Permanent Commission on cooperation between the two countries at a decision made in Botswana in February 2018.

The BNC is the highest bilateral framework of cooperation between Zimbabwe and Botswana which is preceded by a ministerial meeting and a senior officials meeting which kicked off this Monday.

Eight memoranda of understanding and agreements covering political and diplomatic, economic, social and defence and security are expected to be signed when the heads of state and government finally meet this Thursday.

Addressing the officials at the opening of the preparatory meeting by officials who included Commander Defence Forces of Zimbabwe and his Botswana counterpart, Commissioner General of the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service Retired Major General Paradzai Zimondi, Ambassador Manzou stressed that a lot is expected from the implementing officials and that it is no longer business as usual as the Second Republic forges ahead with its engagement policy.

Among the issues under consideration are two offers by Botswana namely, a US$1 billion credit facility to support the private sector and another half a billion diamond backed facility.

Botswana’s Permanent Secretary for International Affairs and Cooperation said the Bi-National Commission is a great opportunity to spot and design solutions that can fully unlock the wealth of potential that exists between the two countries and it is important that the decisions made are followed through.

He said the two countries have a lot to share from their experiences in areas such as education and mining.

Ties between Zimbabwe and Botswana have improved since the advent of the new dispensation led by President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

The Zimbabwe-Botswana BNC comes ahead of another scheduled visit by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa soon for the third session of the Zimbabwe-South Africa Bi-National Commission.

The two BNCs are a major milestone in Zimbabwe’s engagement and reengagement thrust.