President Cyril Ramaphosa has concluded working visits to the republics of Mozambique and Zimbabwe on the second leg of what he has described as his “pilgrimage” to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) member states following his election as President in February 2018.

President Ramaphosa was accompanied today, Saturday 17 March 2018, by the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Ms Lindiwe Sisulu and the Minister of State Security, Ms Dipuo Letsatsi-Duba as he paid courtesy calls on Presidents Filipe Nyusi of Mozambique and Emmerson Mnangagwa of Zimbabwe.

The visits formed part of a longstanding SADC tradition, in terms of which newly elected Heads of State pay courtesy calls on neighbouring countries.

In Maputo, Presidents Ramaphosa and Nyusi underscored the strength of the bilateral relations between South Africa and Mozambique. The leaders emphasised the need for the two countries to deepen economic cooperation during the third session, in South Africa later this year, of the Binational Commission that oversees relations between the two states.

The Presidents identified agriculture, energy, investment in rail and road infrastructure, tourism and the movement of people between the two countries as areas for engagement during the forthcoming Binational Commission.

President Ramaphosa’s visit to Harare follows President Mnangagwa’s visit – his first abroad - to South Africa in December 2017, soon after his inauguration as President of the Republic of Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe is due to hold elections towards the middle of 2018.

During today’s deliberations the two Heads of State reviewed bilateral relations between the two countries. They acknowledged the historical and fraternal relations that exist between the two sister republics.

They further noted the depth and extent of bilateral cooperation as evidenced by the existence of more than 40 bilateral agreements covering a broad range of sectors, including mining, agriculture, retail, transport, communications, energy, tourism, labour, immigration and security.

President Ramaphosa commended President Mnangagwa on his efforts to revitalise the Zimbabwean economy. In this regard, President Ramaphosa committed to support Zimbabwe in this endeavor by encouraging South African state-owned companies and the private sector to invest in the Zimbabwean economy, noting that Zimbabwe is one of South Africa’s top five trade partners. More than 120 South African companies are doing business across a broad range of sectors in Zimbabwe.

The Presidents reaffirmed the strategic importance of the Beitbridge border post. In this regard they committed themselves to the establishment of a one-stop border post to facilitate the easy movement of people, goods and services, acknowledging that Beitbridge is the busiest border crossing in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The Presidents further reaffirmed the need to prioritise economic cooperation for the mutual benefit of the respective countries and peoples.

They identified the following sectors as key in strengthening economic cooperation: agro-processing, mining, tourism, energy and infrastructure development.

The two Heads of State further reviewed the political and security situation in the SADC region and the Continent.

In this regard, they noted that SADC is generally politically stable, with the exception of a few challenges in the region which are attended to by the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation. The two Presidents agreed to consult regularly on issues of mutual concern.

President Ramaphosa wished President Mnangagwa and the people of Zimbabwe well as they prepare for mid-year elections.