BY XOLISANI NCUBE
THE Zimbabwean government has pleaded with South Africa to help revive its collapsing economy to avoid a contagion effect.
Addressing a ministerial meeting of the third session of the Zimbabwe-South Africa Bi-National Commission (BNC) in Harare yesterday, Foreign Affairs and International Trade minister Sibusiso Moyo said a weaker Zimbabwe was a threat to South Africa’s economy.
“A stronger Zimbabwe is one that is capacitated to effectively partner South Africa in shouldering the burden of leading the southern African development region towards prosperity. It is for this reason that the Republic of South Africa, should find it in its interest to create an environment and conditions that stimulate a quick turnaround of Zimbabwe’s economy,” Moyo said.
The ministerial meeting was a precursor to today’s BNC Heads of States summit between President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his South African counterpart, Cyril Ramaphosa who jetted into Harare last night.
Zimbabwe last month held a similar indaba with Botswana and Harare took its investment plea to Gaborone, with the neighbouring country pledging a $95 million business support package.
Moyo said once Zimbabwe’s economy starts to function well, South Africa would be the biggest winner.
“Furthermore, it goes without saying that a stronger Zimbabwe offers an expanded market for South African manufactured products,” Moyo said.
The minister said SA investors could make use of special economic zones (SEZs) that offer free importation of capital equipment and tax variables in Zimbabwe.
“I am inviting South African businesses to take advantage of the varied incentives provided for by SEZs in Zimbabwe. These zones offer incentives that include, among others, duty-free importation of capital equipment and tax variables. The SEZs that we aim to set up in Zimbabwe’s 10 provinces offer opportunities to create cross-border value tax through partnerships between Zimbabwean companies and South African investors in areas that include mining and engineering, leather, textile and clothing,” he said.
“A prosperous Zimbabwe makes for a prosperous South Africa and vice-versa. As we continue to break new ground within the framework of our bilateral co-operation, I am delighted to note that we have registered tangible progress delivered from our agreements and memorandum of understanding (MOUs) which forms building blocks of our Bi-National Commission.”
Moyo said trade was the major driver for growth.
“Delivering concrete results for the benefit of our people and countries remains our paramount objective bestowed upon us by our leaders and by history. Trade is the major driver for the growth of our two economies. For that reason it has become a major focus of co-operation between our countries,” Moyo said.
The ministerial indaba was co-chaired by South Africa International Relations minister Lindiwe Sisulu, who said her country was ready to support Zimbabwe economically and was eager to fulfil all MOUs that were signed since 2015 when the BNC was launched.