‘If Zimbabwe could choose its neighbours, it would still be SA’ – Mugabe charm offensive

Pretoria – Visiting Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe on Tuesday showered praises on South African President Jacob Zuma and the Pretoria authorities for the cordial relations existing between the neighbouring African countries.

“Comrade President [Zuma], it is often said one can choose his or her friends but he or she cannot choose one’s neighbours. Let me assure you that had we had a say in the choice of neighbour, we would have chosen you. We are one family because of geography, history, the revolutionary struggle we fought side by side, and of course because of culture, blood totems and marriage,” said Mugabe at the Bi-National Commission (BNC) hosted in Pretoria.

“We hope that this phenomena will continue to bind us forever. I’m pleased that we have chosen the path of cooperation, consultation, dialogue, engagement and joint action in order to secure our common future. We meet today in common spirit.”

Mugabe said ever since the the heads of state met at the inaugural session of the BNC, a lot has since been done to bring the agreements to fruition. He appealed for heightened efforts to promote cross-border trade and investment.

“This strategic partnership is the instrument for achieving the profound transformation of our countries’ economies. Let us join hands and promote cross-border investments, facilitate join ventures and other linkages between the public entities of our countries,” he said.

Concurring with Mugabe, Zuma said the annual gathering was critical in oiling the bilateral relations between Pretoria and Harare.

“Our historical, fraternal and cultural bonds demand that we meet on regular basis to strengthen and consolidate our bilateral cooperation and partnership,” he said.

“We note with satisfaction the ever-growing cooperation between our two countries as evidenced by the existing 40 agreements and Memoranda of Understanding. These agreements are aimed at promoting political, economic and social cooperation.”

These agreements cover a wide range of areas including double taxation, justice, defence, transport, water, science and technology, health, migration, labour, economic and trade cooperation, and tourism.

Zimbabwe is one of South Africa’s top five trading partners on the continent, with trade statistics showing annual growth. In 2016, South Africa’s exports to Zimbabwe amounted to approximately R29.3 billion.

There are over 120 South African companies doing business in Zimbabwe in various sectors including mining, aviation, tourism, banking sector, the property sector, the retail sector, construction sector, and the fast food sector and many more.