JOHANNESBURG, December 21 – South African President Jacob Zuma on Thursday warmly received Zimbabwe’s new President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is on his first working visit.
After midday, the two counterparts, accompanied by their delegations, were in closed door discussions at Zuma’s Mahlamba Ndlopfu official residence in Pretoria.
Before the closed meeting started, Mnangagwa joked that he was happy to be back in South Africa – the place he sought refuge in when he was fired as deputy president by former Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe last month. The move proved to be the downfall of the 93-year-old who had been at the helm for 37 years.
Last month Mugabe resigned under pressure from his ZANU PF party, the army and the public, leading to the return of Mnangagwa, who has since been sworn in as president.
Ahead of Mnangagwa’s visit, the Presidency in South Africa said the neighbouring countries “enjoy cordial bilateral relations underpinned by strong historical and political bonds that date back to the era of the liberation struggle”.
The significance of these diplomatic relations are marked by the annual convening of the Bi-National Commission (BNC) signed in 2015 and co-chaired by the two heads of State. The previous session of the BNC was held in South Africa in October.
The two countries have signed more than 40 memoranda of understanding and agreements covering several fields including security, energy, agriculture, mining, infrastructure development, trade, transport and arts and culture.
Trade between the two countries has seen exponential growth over the years with Zimbabwe being one of South Africa’s top five trading partners in the region and the African continent.
South African exports to Zimbabwe in 2016 were worth R29. 3 billion.
– African News Agency (ANA)