Zvamaida Murwira-Senior Reporter
President Mnangagwa has challenged private sector players from Zimbabwe and the Kingdom of Eswatini to tap into spin-offs from the strong bilateral relations and cooperation between the two countries to invest in various sectors for the mutual benefit of both nations.
He said there were several policy interventions that Zimbabwe was implementing, ranging from energy, education, manufacturing among others that could be utilised to benefit the two countries.
The Head of State and Government said this in Harare on Thursday night during a State banquet he hosted for Eswatini King Mswati III who officially opened the 63rd Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) in Bulawayo yesterday.
The dinner, held at State House, was also to honour Prince Masitsela from Eswatini who assisted President Mnangagwa and his colleagues during the liberation struggle when they went to Mbabane (capital of Eswatini) to buy provisions for use by freedom fighters and their leaders during the time they were in Mozambique.
Prince Masitsela paid for their groceries despite being a stranger to them.
“Zimbabwe, under the Second Republic, has experienced economic rejuvenation and growth with key sectors of the economy on a recovery path. The highlights include; the adoption of our national Vision 2030 and the transformative National Economic Development Strategy,” said President Mnangagwa.
“This has resulted in unprecedented growth milestones in agriculture, mining, manufacturing, infrastructure development, tourism as well as in energy and power development. I challenge the private sectors of our two countries to tap into the spill-off opportunities to increase greater trade and investments across all sectors.”
Some of the areas of possible exchange are the sugar cane industry whose expertise both countries have and President Mnangagwa pledged to provide Eswatini with 50 000 hectares of land for sugar cane growing which is subject to an upward review.
President Mnangagwa said the recent introduction of Royal Eswatini Airline flights between Eswatini and Harare will give impetus to enhanced cooperation.
“The relations between our two countries are deeply-rooted in our shared past, cultural bonds and familial ties. The Kingdom of Eswatini played a critical role in Zimbabwe’s protracted armed liberation struggle against colonialism and white minority rule. We remain indebted to Eswatini for providing shelter, supplies and safe passage to our liberation fighters. This close relationship still exists with the Kingdom of Eswatini and Zimbabwe continuing to exchange notes and share strategies against the neo-colonial onslaught on the sovereignties of our two countries. In the case of Zimbabwe, this includes the imposition of the heinous illegal sanctions.
“The distance between us has indeed been reduced following the recent introduction of the Royal Eswatini Airlines on 14th April 2023, which will ply the Mbabane-Harare-Johannesburg route. We look forward to more people to people and business to business delegations plying this route. The introduction of the airline must, thus, translate to jointly marketing our various destinations and tourism products.”
He chronicled how Eswatini assisted Zimbabwe in 2008 when it chaired the Sadc Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation. At that time, Harare was under immense attack from its detractors who were bent on imposing United Nations Chapter VI sanctions.
President Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe stood ready to scale up partnerships in the education sector between Harare and Eswatini.
“The revolution in Zimbabwe’s education sector has seen us introduce the Education 5.0 philosophy. I am aware that there are notable partnerships between our education sectors with some students from the Kingdom of Eswatini studying at our Zimbabwean Universities and institutions of higher learning. We stand ready to scale up such co-operation to increase and broaden the skills among the young talented boys and girls in our respective countries,” said President Mnangagwa.
He also commended Eswatini for maintaining its cultural norms and values, against the onslaught of alien Western norms and trends he said had negatively impacted on the young generation.
Zimbabwe, said President Mnangagwa, continues to consolidate democracy and constitutionalism and its engagement and re-engagement drive was bearing fruit, but regretted the resurgence of instability in some African countries like Sudan.
“Despite the ‘noises’ coming from some West countries, Zimbabwe continues to consolidate democracy and constitutionalism through various legislative reforms which cut across the political and economic space. Our engagement and re-engagement Policy towards building mutually beneficial partnerships is bearing fruit and Zimbabwe is ‘a friend to all and an enemy to none,” he said.
“At the regional level, we continue to work within SADC and the African Union to promote regional peace and security. Regrettably, at the continental level, we are witnessing a resurgence of situations of insecurity and instability in various sub-regions, with the latest being the armed conflict in Sudan as well as the ongoing challenges in Eastern DRC and Cabo Delgado. If unresolved, these cases impede Africa’s quest to “silence the guns” and the realisation of the AU Agenda 2063 of an Africa ‘we want’.”
Explaining how Prince Masitsela helped them, President Mnangagwa said he paid for their food provisions when they had fortuitously met in a shop during one of their routine visits to Mbabane to buy food for liberation fighters during the armed struggle.
Speaking at the same occasion, King Mswati lll said the private sector had a huge role in improving the economy of the two countries.
He said he will soon send a team comprising of officials from both the private sector and Government to assess areas of co-operation including the sugar cane industry.
Eswatini, the King said, had great expertise in sugar cane farming that it got from its erstwhile colonisers, the British.
The good hospitality that President Mnangagwa and his colleagues got from Prince Masitsela, said King Mswati, was consistent with the humility that his countrypeople had which was rooted in their culture.
“That shows the culture of amaSwati, it is very strong and deep rooted. He was doing it in honour of our culture,” he said.
King Mswati said the Eswatini national airline will provide greater connectivity between the two countries and the region.
“My visit to your country soon after the maiden flight complements our relationship,” he said.
King Mswati said Africa ought to utilise its natural resources which run into billions of United States dollars.
“As Africa we do not need to look very far, the expertise is there. It needs all of us to come together, we have a lot of resources,” he said.
The banquet was attended by Cabinet Ministers, senior Government officials and diplomats accredited to Zimbabwe.