MAUN – Neighboring country – Zimbabwe is planning to exploit the warm relations prevailing between her and Botswana to ramp up exports, that country’s Minister of Industry and Commerce – Sekai Nzenza has said.
Available official figures show that despite the proximity between Botswana and her neighbor – Zimbabwe, trade relations between the two nations drastically fall over the years.
Nzenza however says despite the many challenges that Zimbabwe is facing which led to poverty, diseases, natural disasters and economic ruin, they still remain hopeful that the commencement of trade relations with Botswana will go a long way in normalising the current situation.
Speaking at a business seminar in Maun on the sidelines of the 2nd session of the of the Bi-National Commission between Botswana and Zimbabwe, Nzensa noted that the fact that President Mokgweetsi Masisi and his Zimbabwean counterpart Emmerson Mnangagwa have shown commitment in widening economic relations between the two countries is proof that they want nothing but the best for their people to prosper and recover from the hardships of poverty.
Nzensa said that the commitment will help in opening free investment opportunities as well as the sharing and exchanging of ideas.
“I must confess that we are more than happy to be here today. Our being here is such a great achievement which we wish could take place from time to time for the benefit of our people particularly. We have brought on board, a much-experienced business delegation which represents various sectors in the fields of agriculture, leather works, mining, to mention but a few. They are here to start relations with yourselves and strengthen cross border trade among others”, she said.
Nzenza stated that because of the fluctuating currencies and the economic instability which they experienced in Zimbabwe in the past, it has been difficult for them to even transport their products, adding that trade collaborations will now help transform Zimbabwe into an upper class economy and lure in a lot more investors from Botswana and around the world.
“Our government is busy at work addressing the critical issue of currency reform. In June the previous year, Zimbabwe moved from a multi-currency regime, and we have seen our local currency become a legal tender for most domestic transactions. It is worth noting also that that the prolonged use of the US dollar has hit us hard, and has done more harm than good in the performance of export sectors of the trade industry. However, we continue to draw lessons from Botswana so that we do not see a repeat of what we went through. Please bear with us and know that we are ready to receive and do whatever kind of business with you”.
Local Maun businessman Bernard Wellio opined that while Batswana have always had interests in doing business in Zimbabwe, they often see themselves pulling back, as a result of conflicting rules and regulations from both countries. He said the fact that Zimbabwe is not a member of Southern African Customs Union (SACU) is another limiting factor which needs to be looked into as a matter of urgency, seeing that it discourages a lot of people who have business interest between Botswana and Zimbabwe.
At the end of the Bi National Commission, the two countries signed MOU’s on the fields of Health Matters, the Provision of sustainable and functional low cost housing, Cooperation on media, Information and Publicity, Sport development, Employment and Labour, Cooperation on Technical and Vocational Training as well as the signing of a mutual legal agreement on assistance on criminal matters.