Mugabe not 'carrying a begging bowl' in South Africa: spokesman
President Robert Mugabe
He told The Times that Zimbabwe was a viable state seeking partnerships with South Africa‚ not some kind of assistance. “Portraying Zimbabwe as a begging bowl-carrying country has no basis‚” he said.
The Zimbabwe Independent newspaper reported that Mugabe may ask President Jacob Zuma to help fund a Southern African Development Community summit on industrialisation‚ which is due to take place in Harare on April 26.
“We are a bit unhappy that we are being portrayed as coming here with a begging bowl to ask for money‚” he said. He dismissed these reports as irresponsible‚ adding that the summit will happen.
Charamba said Zimbabwe had a sizeable population of Zimbabweans in SA‚ not as refugees but skilled workers imparting vital skills to the SA economy.
He reminded critics of the visit that “there was a time when we were the strongest trading partner with SA; the basis of that still remains‚ especially in mining”.
Mugabe arrived in the country yesterday evening accompanied by his wife Grace‚ minister of foreign affairs Simbarashe Mumbengegwi‚ finance minister Patrick Chinamasa and environment minister Saviour Kasukuwere.
Mugabe was this morning greeted by a 21-gun salute as he and Zuma stood to attention at the west wing of the Union Buildings‚ with the singing of national anthems of both countries.
According to the presidency‚ Mugabe’s first second state visit to SA in more than 20 years was aimed at strengthening relations and co-operation between the two neighbouring countries.
The two countries have since 1994 signed over 20 Memoranda of Understanding and Agreements‚ with regular interaction between various South African government departments and their Zimbabwean counterparts.
Structured bilateral co-operation between South Africa and Zimbabwe through the Joint Commission for Cooperation‚ established in 1995‚ promotes political‚ economic and social co-operation between the two countries.
The last session of the South Africa/Zimbabwe Joint Commission for Cooperation was held in Pretoria in 2012. South Africa and Zimbabwe also share an economic relationship due to their geographic proximity and historical ties.
The Times understands that also on the agenda during Mugabe’s visit was the skewed trading relations between the two countries‚ with South Africa exporting approximately R24.8 billion to Zimbabwe in 2014‚ while imports from Zimbabwe amounted to a mere R2 billion.
This makes SA the top investor in the Zimbabwean economy‚ with a large presence of SA companies such as Nedbank‚ Impala Platinum‚ Standard Bank‚ Old Mutual and Tongaat-Hullet in Zimbabwe. The South Africa-Zimbabwe Business Forum will meet tomorrow.