SIGNED AND SEALED . . . President Mnangagwa and his Botswana counterpart President Mokgweetsi Eric Masisi smile as Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Dr Sibusiso Moyo (right) and his Botswana counterpart Dr Unity Dow, sign Memorandums of understanding in Harare yesterday

Botswana President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi has confirmed the 1 billion pula Botswana credit facility that will be channelled towards Zimbabwe’s private sector.

Fielding questions from journalists at the close of the inaugural session of the Zimbabwe-Botswana Bi-National Commission Summit jointly presided over with President Mnangagwa in Harare yesterday, President Masisi said Botswana had increased the facility from 600 million pula to a billion.

“We increased from 600 million pula to 1 billion, the details of which will be sorted out later on,” he said.

President Masisi also handed over health assistance worth 2,1 million pula to the Government of Zimbabwe.

The facilities came as a tonic to a number of agreements that the two Southern African neighbours made in a culmination of meetings that were held since the start of the week under the aegis of the inaugural BNC.

Zimbabwe and Botswana signed six Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) spanning political, social and economic fields that will bring the two countries closer.

The MoUs included the Extradition Treaty, Diplomatic Consultations, Rules and Procedures Governing the Meetings of the Bi-National Bi-National Commission, Mining, Geology and Metallurgy, Cooperation in the Energy Sector and  Science and Technology.

Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Dr Sibusiso Moyo and his Botswana counterpart Dr Unity Dow signed the MoU on Diplomatic consultations.

The two ministers also signed the MoU on Rules and Procedure governing meetings of the Bi-National  Commission.

Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Minister Professor Amon Murwira signed the MoU on cooperation in the field of Science, Technology and Innovation while Botswana was represented by Minister Dow.

The Extradition Treaty was signed by Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Cain Mathema and Botswana Defence, Justice and Security Minister Shaw Kgathi.

Energy and Power Development Minister Dr Jorum Gumbo signed the MoU on Cooperation in Geology, Mining and Metallurgy on behalf of his counterpart Minister Winston Chitando, while Botswana was represented Minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security Eric Molale.

The two ministers also signed another MoU on Cooperation in the field of Energy Development.

In his remarks at the closure of the highly successful summit, President Mnangagwa said: “I am pleased that at this inaugural session, we witnessed the signing of six agreements which set the legal framework for broad cooperation in the agreed areas. Through our collective efforts, may the conclusion of these agreements not be an end in itself, but the beginning of greater bilateral cooperation for the benefit of our people and future generations. History has shown us that where people and nations get used to working together, they grow to share the same vision and aspirations.

“I am confident that Zimbabwe and Botswana have set themselves along this path.”

President Masisi who was also the co-chairman of the summit echoed the sentiments saying: “Today’s meeting is the beginning of a strong and long journey which is ahead of us. More work still needs to be done especially to open our private sector business people and private citizens to play a meaningful role in our efforts to further strengthen our bilateral relations. There is no doubt that our success in implementing the commitments we make today will go a long way in ensuring a conducive environment for our people and businesses to increase their interaction.”

He said the Extradition Treaty would go a long way in serving justice between the citizens of the two countries.

Reading out the communique issued after the summit, Minister Moyo (Foreign Affairs and International Trade) said the two Presidents underscored the importance of the MoU on Geology, Mining and Metallurgy in enhancing cooperation in the mining sector especially in the diamond sector where Botswana had considerable experience and expertise.

“The two (Presidents) also noted the importance of the MoU on cooperation in the energy sector in the development and industrialisation efforts of the two countries,” said Minister Moyo.

“The two Presidents directed the senior officials to expedite the conclusion of the outstanding agreements and MoUs by the midterm review to be held in November 2019. The two Presidents noted the need to increase volumes of trade and investment between their countries. In this regard, they directed that a business forum be convened on the margins of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair to bel held in Bulawayo in April 2019.”

Dr Moyo said the two Presidents welcomed decision by Botswana to consider joining the Kaza uni-visa system as this would assist in the promotion of tourism in the countries involved.

He said there was also a briefing between the two Heads of State and Government on the political situation in the two countries.

On the international front, Dr Moyo said: “The Presidents also welcomed the statement by Sadc calling for the unconditional lifting of sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe and noted Botswana’s commitment to continue advocating for the removal of the sanctions.”Chronicle