SOUTH African President Cyril Ramaphosa last week upped the ante in his bid to assist Zimbabwe’s economic recovery strategy after dispatching an envoy to Harare for talks with Treasury officials in President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration.
BY RICHARD CHIDZA
At the same time, Ramaphosa was arguing Zimbabwe’s case at meetings with European Union leaders demanding that the key Western bloc should lift sanctions against the country.
NewsDay has it on good authority that economist Thabi Leoka was in Harare for the whole of last week meeting senior government officials in the Finance ministry as well as the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) as Zimbabwe’s southern neighbour seeks to help the country to come out of the woods.
“She flew into the country on Monday and has been meeting officials including those at Finance (ministry) and RBZ. Ramaphosa is ready to help Mnangagwa and really believes Zimbabwe can turn the corner. If Zimbabwe indeed takes off it will ease pressure on South Africa as fewer people will need to go down there seeking opportunities as is the case now,” NewsDay heard.
Contacted for comment, Leoka on Friday confirmed that she was in Harare, but was not at liberty to discuss her visit.
“I am in Harare, but I will not talk about that,” the highly-respected economist said.
RBZ governor John Mangudya’s cellphone went unanswered, while Treasury secretary George Guvamatanga was also not available for comment.
Ramaphosa told a meeting of EU leaders at the 7th South Africa-European Union Summit in Brussels, Belgium, last week that Zimbabwe had turned the corner on the back of “great reforms”.
“We discussed a matter of other countries in our region, particularly Zimbabwe, and called upon the EU to review its position on Zimbabwe and move towards lifting whatever sanctions they might still have on Zimbabwe because Zimbabwe is on a path of great reforms and we insisted that this needs to be supported as the country has turned a wonderful corner,” he told a Press conference on Thursday.
His position was buttressed by his spokesperson Khusela Diko who took to Twitter and wrote: “We came, we saw, made case for accelerated investment for job creation, again explained why land reform is necessary for stability of SA, then called on EU to review sanctions against Zimbabwe. Our job here is done. Onward to Geneva, Switzerland for ILO #BetterAfricaBetterWorld.”
South Africa is Zimbabwe’s largest trading partner and has borne the brunt of Zimbabwe’s near two-decades – long economic meltdown.