President Jacob Zuma hosted his Zimbabwe counterpart, President Robert Mugabe, in Pretoria at the second session of South Africa-Zimbabwe Bi-National Commission.
The meeting on Tuesday was aimed at strengthening bilateral relations between the neighbouring countries.
Mugabe travelled to South Africa on Monday evening without Zimbabwe’s first lady, Grace Mugabe. This after she was alleged to have assaulted 20-year-old model Gabriella Engels at a Sandton hotel on August 13. The first lady of Zimbabwe then claimed diplomatic immunity, which was granted by South Africa’s minister of international relations.
However, on Tuesday both heads of state avoided the very mention of the incident.
Mugabe lightened the mood with a quip that if they had a choice in neighbours they would have chosen South Africa.
“We are one – one people, one revolution, one struggle, one future,” he added.
Zuma also made no reference to the incident and said there was “ever-growing cooperation between the two countries”.
That relationship was seemingly solidified with the signing of five strategic agreements and memoranda of understanding.
The agreements focused on areas of energy, environment, information communication technologies as well as sports and recreation.
Bridging the gap
Zuma and Mugabe also welcomed the establishment of a joint technical committee whose mandate, among other things, would be to develop the necessary legal framework for a one-stop border post.
This in reference to the Beitbridge border post, which connects South Africa and Zimbabwe.
“This border post is the busiest border post on the continent,” Zuma said.
“Much of our goods and services go through it. We cannot afford to continue to have unnecessary delays at that border.”