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Will Zimbabwe Benefit from Mugabe's Trip to South Africa?

  • Ndimyake Mwakalyelye

President Robert Mugabe’s two-day State visit to neighboring South Africa, has proved beneficial for Zimbabwe, according to various media, including Zimbabwe’s state-owned, Herald, which reported that the two countries have signed several agreements aimed to strengthen their economies.

President Mugabe and his delegation, which included Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa and Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, reportedly signed several memorandums of understanding and bilateral agreements that included the establishment of Bi-National Commission and Co-operation on Water Resources Management.

Dismissing reports that President Mugabe was seeking financial assistance from South Africa, presidential spokesperson George Charamba is quoted saying the visit was aimed at upgrading bilateral and trade relations between the two nations.

While South African President Jacob Zuma has made numerous visits to Zimbabwe, particularly when he served as the SADC-appointed mediator to Zimbabwe, during the time Zanu-PF and the Movement for Democratic Change formed a coalition government, President Mugabe had not visited South Africa since 1994, when he attended the inauguration of the late former President Nelson Mandela.

During his trip, Mr. Mugabe praised his South African counterpart Mr. Zuma for maintaining a strong economy, which he described as an advanced system, compared to Zimbabwe’s, and urged the two countries to learn from each other.

President Mugabe also thanked Mr. Zuma for accommodating the millions of Zimbabweans who have sought economic and political sanctuary, in South Africa.

Analysts following the developments, say the President Mugabe’s trip is significant and could yield results for both countries.

Political analyst Morris Ngwenya praised President Mugabe’s visit, and added that Mr. Mugabe is living up to his responsibilities as chair of the African Union and the Southern African Development Community.

At the same time, Professor Shadreck Guto of the Institute for African Renaissance in Pretoria, South Africa, said while the visit could help Zimbabwe, President Mugabe and his government have to address the issue of land and the economy, to ensure that it serves the citizens.