ZIMBABWE and northern neighbours Zambia are working on a joint industrialisation programme that seeks to put the two countries on a better footing to compete favourably as the continent moves towards a free trade area.
This involves pooling of resources towards strengthening an identified sector to make it competitive for both countries.
One of the key pillars in the development matrix is the consummation of twinning arrangements between Mashonaland West and Central provinces in Zimbabwe and two provinces in Zambia.
The two countries already cooperate in power generation through the Zambezi River Authority, which manages Kariba Dam and the lake.
Under the anticipated agreements, Mashonaland West province will twin with Zambia’s Southern province while Mashonaland Central province twins with Lusaka province.
In her address during SADC Day commemorations in Siavonga, Zambia, Ambassador Gertrude Takawira said various ways were being pursued to deepen cooperation between the two countries.
“From the successes of the joint programme in the energy sector through the Zambezi River Authority, it remains for us (Zimbabwe and Zambia) to transfer that success into other economic sectors.
“I am happy to announce that as Zimbabwe and Zambia we are working a joint industrialisation programme where we are saying that in the face of continental free trade agreement. Zimbabwe and Zambia must be found in a stronger position,” said Ambassador Takawira.
The thrust, she said, was to make the region stronger economically and competitive, a joint industrialisation programme targeting sectors such as the beef industry was desirable.
“As one people we are seeking more ways of deepening cooperation at various levels for the mutual benefit of our people,” she said.
“So there are proposals to twin the Southern Province here in Zambia and Mashonaland West province in Zimbabwe. In fact, we are now at the signing stage where we expect the two provinces to sign an MoU. Similar arrangements are in the pipeline for Mashonaland Central and Lusaka province.”
She said the two countries should leverage on cordial political relations to explore opportunities to deepen economic relations.
She said Zambia contributed significantly to the country and others in the SADC region attaining independence from colonial rule before paying tribute to founding leaders in the region including Dr Kenneth Kaunda, Julius Nyerere of Tanzania and Sir Seretse Khama of Botswana.
The founding fathers, she said, envisioned a free, peaceful, secure and developing Southern African community.