Botswana President Mokgweetsi Eric Masisi will be in Harare this week for the inaugural Zimbabwe-Botswana Bi-National Commission (BNC), as President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration ratchets up diplomatic re-engagement efforts designed to unlock mutually beneficial relations.

Eight agreements covering political, diplomatic and economic sectors are expected to be signed.

Harare and Gaborone upgraded their relations from a Joint Commission to Bi-National Commission in August last year, paving the way for annual meetings between the two Heads of State.

Official meetings under the historic BNC begin today.

The engagements will culminate in the meeting between President Mnangagwa and his counterpart on Thursday.

In a statement yesterday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade described the BNC as “the highest bilateral framework of cooperation between Zimbabwe and Botswana”.

“The Inaugural Session of the Zimbabwe and Botswana Bi-National Commission (BNC) will be held on 28 February 2019 at Meikles Hotel in Harare and will be headed by the two countries’ Heads of State and Government, His Excellency, President E D Mnangagwa, and his Botswana counterpart, H.E. President Dr Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi,” read the statement.

It added: “The BNC replaced the Joint Permanent Commission on Co-operation between the two countries, which last sat as the 12thSession in Gaborone, Botswana, from 8 to 11 February 2018.

“The BNC is the highest bilateral framework of co-operation between Zimbabwe and Botswana. It will be preceded by a Ministerial Meeting on 27 February 2019, and a Senior Officials meeting on 25 and 26 February 2019.

“Eight Memoranda of Understanding and Agreements covering political and diplomatic, economic, social, and defence and security sectors will be signed during this Session.”

Relations between Zimbabwe and its neighbour were frosty under the old administration, but they are beginning to thaw under the President Mnangagwa-led administration.

Since taken over as the second Executive President of Zimbabwe in November 2017, President Mnangagwa actively sought to restore relations with Gaborone as he made Botswana the destination for his first official State visit as Head of State.SundayMail