Zimbabwe’s permanent secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, James Manzou, says the southern African nation is pleased with achievements that have been made through its cooperation with Rwanda.
Manzou told delegates at the opening of the second session of Zimbabwe Rwanda Joint Permanent Commission on Cooperation which kicked off on Monday that Zimbabwe is amazed by the achievements being made through the cooperation with Rwanda.
“It has been two years since we embarked on the journey of our Joint Permanent Commission on Cooperation, yet already I am amazed at how much has been achieved in such a short space of time,” Manzou said.
“Generally, most of our areas of cooperation have been up to task. I am glad to note the positive growth in our political and diplomatic consultations on bilateral, continental and international issues of mutual concern and interest.”
He said trade between Rwanda and Zimbabwe is on an upward trajectory.
“In the economic cluster of our Joint Permanent Commission on Cooperation, it is pleasing to note that the relationship between our two countries in the area of trade and investment has been steadily moving on an upward trajectory,” Manzou said as he delivered his opening statement.
“I applaud our two trade development agencies, ZimTrade and the Rwanda Development Board, for their continued efforts in giving our business sectors an opportunity to meet through the trade and investment conferences, which have been religiously convening on an annual basis since 2021.”
Manzou said there is room for improvement since the potential is much greater than what has been achieved so far. He said there was a need to put mechanisms in place to ensure there was seamless trade and investment between Rwanda and Zimbabwe.
“For example, we need to put in place a mechanism for coordinated customs cooperation to tame all revenue leakages and reduce the tax burden on individuals and businesses operating in both countries through an MoU on Customs Cooperation,” he said.
He said the two countries have also made a huge step forward in cooperation in the field of energy.
“The conclusion of the MoU on Cooperation in the Field of Energy in 2019 has led to an inter utility partnership between the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA Holdings) and the Rwanda Energy Group (REG),” Mazou said.
“Through that framework, various areas of cooperation were agreed upon under the Total Electrification Programme, whose main deliveries include the Stand-Alone Solar Home Systems, Rural Electrification, Smart Metering as well as the National Public Street Lightning Project for Provincial Capitals.”
He also commended progress being made in the fields of agriculture and tourism.
Manzou said Zimbabwe wants Rwanda’s support to enable it to be allowed to sell its huge stockpiles of ivory.
“In this area, Zimbabwe requests the support of Rwanda within the auspices of Multilateral Environmental Agreements, particularly, the Convention on International Trade and Endangered Species (CITES) in order to be allowed to sell its ivory stockpiles whose proceeds will assist government’s efforts towards the sustainable management and conservation of its wildlife resources,” he said.
“This matter is close to our hearts and we look forward to a meeting of minds backed by the scientific data that our side has gathered over the years.”
Zimbabwe’s hopes to sell its stockpile of ivory worth US$600million were squashed after its proposal was rejected at the 19th Conference of Parties of the Convention on CITES held in Panama last year.
Mazou said another key highlight of this JPCC session will be the signing of the MoU on Cooperation in the Field of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development.
He said Zimbabwe is pleased with its cooperation with Rwanda telling delegates at the second JPCC session that: “It has been two years since we embarked on the journey of our Joint Permanent Commission on Cooperation, yet already I am amazed at how much has been achieved in such a short space of time. Generally, most of our areas of cooperation have been up to task. I am glad to note the positive growth in our political and diplomatic consultations on bilateral, continental and international issues of mutual concern and interest.”
He said Zimbabwe welcomes the positive steps that are being made in forging cooperation in the areas of justice and public security.
“As I have alluded to, the Extradition Treaty and the MoU on immigration were among the three important instruments of bilateral cooperation and were signed during an official visit to Zimbabwe by Honorable Biruta in July 2022,” he said, adding the dispatch of the first batch of over 156 teachers and lecturers to Rwanda under the framework of the MoU on Exchange of Educational Personnel and Expertise stands out as an outstanding testimony to the seriousness of the decisions that are made in the Joint Commission.
“This was indeed a game changer as it has not only boosted the Rwandan education sector but has also gone a long way in cementing people to people relations between the two sister countries,” he said.
Manzou said he was impressed by various initiatives that have been made to establish twinning relations between local administrative bodies in Zimbabwe and Rwanda.
Rwanda’s ambassador to Zimbabwe, James Musoni said Rwanda strongly believes that the Joint Permanent Commission of Cooperation is an important instrument for laying a rock-solid foundation and building blocks for enhancing and deepening bilateral cooperation between Rwanda and Zimbabwe.
“I am, therefore, pleased that we have made considerable progress towards meeting our goal. This is substantiated by the fact that among more than 20 instruments signed between our two countries most of them are being implemented at satisfactory level.”
Musoni added: “Our leaders are expecting implementable outcomes from this meeting to assist in the transformation of our economies and the livelihoods of our people.”