Harare (New Ziana) – Botswana is impressed by Zimbabwe’s determined fight to turn around its economic fortunes despite the negative impact of illegal sanctions that the United States and its Westen allies imposed.
Angered by Zimbabwe’s land reforms under which the government compulsorily acquired excess farmland from white farmers to resettle landless blacks, the US and its Western allies imposed sweeping economic and other sanctions on the country and drove efforts to diplomatically isolate it in the world.
The sanctions crippled the country, causing economic damage which the government has estimated at around US$100 billion.
Initially guided by the Transitional Stabilisation Programme and now the National Development Strategy 1, the Second Republic has soldiered on, utilising mostly domestic resources and capital from friendly nations such as China and Russia, to transform the country into an upper-middle income economy by 2030.
A marker of the government’s efforts is the unprecedented infrastructure development spanning several sectors, including transport and agriculture, which is expected to anchor economic recovery and growth.
In addition, favourable policy interventions by the government have seen other sectors performing well, for example mineral output has risen and in turn spurred an upward growth of foreign currency earnings which amounted to US$7.7 billion for the eight months up to August this year, from US$5.8 billion recorded over the corresponding period in 2021.
It is such efforts and developments that Botswana Foreign Affairs permanent secretary Gladys Mokhawa said were impressive.
“I wish to express Botswana’s appreciation and admiration for the determination by the government of Zimbabwe to place the country back on the path of sustainable socio-economic development and prosperity by the year 2030.
“I am confident that our strong partnership, at bilateral, regional and international levels, will assist in unlocking the potential for Zimbabwe to reclaim her rightful place of a prosperous Middle-Income country in eight years to come,” she said at the opening of the Third session of the Zimbabwe/Botswana Bi-National Commission mid-term review meeting.
“I also wish to reassure you of the commitment by the government of Botswana to continue advocating for the comprehensive lifting of the illegal sanctions on Zimbabwe, as they continue to thwart the country’s efforts towards economic recovery, as well as the region’s socio-economic development.”
Meanwhile, Mokhawa said the convening of the review meeting towards the festive season was a clear demonstration of the great importance both countries attached to the bilateral relations.
She said she was satisfied with the progress that had been registered in a number of areas of cooperation.
“Most importantly, we had the Inaugural Joint Technical Meeting on Combating Livestock Rustling, which was held in Selebi-Phikwe, Botswana, in October 2022. In addition to assessing progress in the implementation of BNC decisions, regarding the livestock rustling issue, the meeting was able to finalise the draft Framework Agreement between Botswana and Zimbabwe on Combating Cross-Border Livestock Rustling, which I understand is now ready for signature.
“I wish to express our sincere gratitude to the government of Zimbabwe for the collaboration we continue to have in the efforts to combat the devastating effects of livestock rustling along our common borders; as well as the joint operations to eradicate the Foot and Mouth Disease, especially after the disease outbreak was reported in Botswana’s Northeast District, this year,” she said.
But, despite the significant progress in a number of areas, there are other sectors that are still lagging behind including the resolution of the boundary issue between Zimbabwe and Botswana at Kazungula.
“I therefore hope that at the end of our review meeting we will have a comprehensive report, with realistic and clear targets on all outstanding issues, ahead of the next BNC meeting.”
Speaking at the same event, Foreign Affairs and International Trade permanent secretary John Manzou said since the last BNC in February this year, the two countries have had several high-level exchange visits, notably, the State Visit to Zimbabwe by President Mokgweetsi Masisi in September this year.
“You will recall, dear colleague, that during that visit, our principals once again directed us to put our shoulders to the wheel in ensuring that their vision is realised, through the timely implementation of the various decisions they took at the February BNC,” he said.
Zimbabwe and Botswana in February 2018 elevated their Joint Permanent Commission on Cooperation (JPCC) to become a BNC to allow for greater cooperation across all sectors and pave way for the commencement of a new economic era in the cooperation between the two governments.