President Emmerson Mnangagwa leaves Harare this morning for Gaborone on a State visit that is expected to enhance bilateral and economic cooperation between Zimbabwe and Botswana.
The President will join about a dozen of his Cabinet Ministers who arrived in Botswana yesterday for the diplomatic mission which is expected to see the countries signing a number of agreements.
Relations between the two neighbouring countries have been frosty in the last decade after the much publicised fallout between former President Robert Mugabe and Botswana’s President Seretse Khama Ian Khama, who threw brickbats at each other on a number of occasions.
Since President Mugabe resigned from office in November, President Khama has shown eagerness to engage Zimbabwe from a fresh plinth as he was one of the Heads of States who attended President Mnangagwa’s inauguration.
That this will be President Mnangagwa’s first official state visit since he was sworn into office in November last year, speaks volumes about President Khama’s keenness to restore sound relations between the two countries.
State visits are initiated by the host and considered the highest level of diplomatic engagements between nations.
Speaking to our Harare Bureau from Gaborone yesterday, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Lieutenant General Sibusisio Moyo (Retired) said President Mnangagwa is expected in Gaborone today.
“We are expecting the Head of State to come in for the State Visit. He is also going to address a business Conference with Zimbabweans living here as well as Botswana business people that have interests or might have future interests in our country.”
Minister Moyo said the historic mission to Botswana will catapult relations between the two countries to new heights by restoring the Joint Commission forum for the two neighbours.
“It is what I would call a resuscitation of the Joint Commission between Zimbabwe and Botswana. The last Joint Commission was about seven or so years ago.
“The main objective is to reinvigorate the relations particularly the economic cooperation between the two nations.
“This visit will simultaneously enhance the level of cooperation to Bi National Commission so that the Heads of States can be able to focus on economic cooperation.”
Minister Moyo said another delegation of officials from Zimbabwe had been in Botswana since last week, laying the groundwork for the signing of bilateral agreements.
“On Wednesday last week, officials from about 14 Ministries arrived here to carry out the preparatory work. We are going to have a packed programme and I have also come with several Cabinet Ministers who will sign agreements with their counterparts from here. The officials had been having their meetings and today (yesterday), we are also having the meeting for the Ministers.
“One of the highlights of the agenda is the agreement that we are going to amplify our cooperation by setting up the Bi-National commission. We are going to give timelines to various Memorandum, of Agreements that are going to be signed between the various Ministries.”
In a statement last week, the Botswana Government said the visit would strengthen cooperation between the two countries in various areas.
“The Government of the Republic of Botswana wishes to inform that His Excellency Mr Emmerson D. Mnangagwa, President of the Republic of Zimbabwe will undertake a two-day state visit to the Republic of Botswana from 12 to 13 February 2018, at the invitation of his counterpart, His Excellency Lieutenant-General Dr Seretse Khama Ian Khama, President of the Republic of Botswana. The visit will accord the two leaders an opportunity to deliberate on bilateral, regional and international issues of mutual concern.
“The Joint Permanent Commission on Cooperation (JPCC) will discuss a wide range of issues with a view to broaden and deepen bilateral cooperation in areas such as trade and investment promotion, energy, control of trans-boundary animal diseases, tourism promotion , education, health, shared water courses, transportation and cultural cooperation to mention but a few,” said the Botswana Government.
Since his inauguration, President Mnangagwa has been to South Africa, Mozambique, Angola, Zambia and Namibia to apprise his counterparts on political developments in the country.