from DANIEL JONES in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
VICTORIA FALLS, (CAJ News) – SOUTH Africa and Zimbabwe must maintain their relations owing to their strategic positioning as the gateway into the Southern African Development Community (SADC) regional bloc.
This is according to the Acting Premier of South Africa’s Limpopo Province, Thabo Mokone, during an official visit to the Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe’s tourism capital city.
About 12 million people go through Beitbridge border post making the port of entry between South Africa and Zimbabwe.
“Every year, we receive 12 million people which therefore means that we as both countries are going to benefit from that in terms of tourism,” Mokone said.
He was speaking after a Trans Limpopo Spatial Development Initiative meeting comprising Limpopo and Matabeleland region of Zimbabwe.
“Beitbridge is the biggest port of entry after OR Tambo (International Airport). Both countries will benefit from the free flow of people,” Mokone said.
The US$300 million Beitbridge modernisation programme is in line with Zimbabwe’s Vision 2030 of attaining an upper middle-income economy.
Limpopo and Matabeleland in 2001 signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to enhance cooperation in a number of fronts including tourism.
Delegations comprising Ministers and Premiers met recently in Victoria Falls to activate the MoU which will enhance exchange cultural programmes and promote tourism.
In April this year, Polokwane dispatched a delegation of more than 100 people to the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair in Bulawayo as part of the agreement.
“As two countries, we need to nurse these relations,” Mokone said.
“We cannot afford not to have this relationship because people from SADC go through Zimbabwe to go to South Africa and the coast.”
Relations between the two neighbouring countries have faced immense tests this year.
Some radical groups in South Africa are demanding the Zimbabweans leave.
A Zimbabwean man, Elvis Nyathi, was killed by a xenophobic mob in Diepsloot.
Limpopo Member of the Executive Committee (MEC) for Health, Phophi Ramathuba, was captured on camera abusing a bedridden woman, claiming Zimbabweans were overburdening the health sector in the province.
– CAJ News