Mushrooms Kwaramba and Mukudzei Chingwere
PRESIDENT Mnangagwa arrived in Nairobi, Kenya yesterday for a crucial two-day indaba with his Kenyan counterpart Uhuru Kenyatta.
The President was welcomed at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport by Kenyan Foreign Minister Dr. Raychelle Omamo and Zimbabwe’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Ambassador Frederick Shava, who led an advance group composed of technical staff and senior government officials.
Today President Mnangagwa and President Kenyatta are scheduled to chair marathon meetings where several memoranda of understanding will be signed.
The Joint Standing Cooperation Commission Zimbabwe-Kenya comes 25 years after the last such meeting between the two countries, demonstrating the commitment and efforts of the Second Republic led by President Mnangagwa.
Yesterday, senior government officials, led by Ambassador Shava, held talks with their Kenyan counterparts as part of the third session of the Joint Permanent Commission on Cooperation (JPCC).
Speaking ahead of the senior officials’ meeting in Nairobi, Ambassador Shava said the JPCC’s third session will provide a platform for the two countries to make smart decisions about the entire program, which ends tomorrow.
“In this regard, I would like to point out that Zimbabwe and Kenya enjoy excellent bilateral relations, based on our shared history, people-to-people ties and close cooperation within the framework of the Common Market for East and Southern Africa (Comesa),” said Minister Shaving.
He said the two countries enjoyed excellent bilateral air services before the restrictions imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic, with Kenya Airways flying to Harare several times a week.
Minister Shava said the courier’s route to Victoria Falls will offer greater connectivity, flexibility and convenience for travelers and boost the tourism sector in the East and South Africa (ESA) region.
“The close cooperation in air transport has also been a boon for the tourism industries of our two countries.”
He said negotiations on a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) covering tourism and wildlife issues have been finalized and look forward to the MoU being signed today in the presence of the two presidents.
“Through joint marketing of tourism products and packages, there is great scope for cooperation in this area. Our two countries share two of the seven natural wonders of the world in Victoria Falls and Masaai Mara.
“It is only logical that we work closely together in this area for the benefit of our communities. In addition, Zimbabwe and Kenya are blessed with many wildlife species that are a source of attraction for the tourism industry. We should therefore never tire of achieving the greatest possible benefit in this area.”
Minister Shava expressed the need to speed up a number of forthcoming instruments in the economic sector to boost the two countries’ activities on trade issues.
“Zimbabwe and Kenya share common membership in Comesa, the Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and should use these regional and continental trade arrangements to enhance bilateral trade.
“I have been informed that some Zimbabwean companies such as Liquid Telecoms (Pvt) and Innscor have managed to establish themselves in Kenya.
We should work together to encourage this mutual investment and in this context I urge Kenyan companies to consider investing in Zimbabwe.”
Minister Shava said cooperation in the health sector has become more urgent with the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic and the threat of future pandemics.
He said the pandemic has highlighted the weakness of our healthcare systems and Africa’s over-reliance on imported medicines and vaccines.
“We need to come together and develop the local pharmaceutical industry.” On defense cooperation, he said Zimbabwe was satisfied with the level of cooperation seen by hosting students in the two countries’ defense colleges.
Minister Shava commended the strategic partnership and encouraged this good work to continue in the future.
“On the diplomatic front, I would like to thank Kenya for proposing a draft MoU on political and diplomatic consultations.
“I am pleased that we have completed negotiations on this MoU and it is one of those to be signed during this session of our Joint Commission,” Minister Shava said.
Aside from being largely involved in the tourism and agriculture sectors, the two countries are facing the same challenges, including Fifa’s recent ban on football associations, and the President and his Kenyan counterpart are expected to exchange views and strategies to resolve them of problems develop in the social field.