Mugabe must use SA visit wisely

HARARE - President Robert Mugabe must wisely use his three-day State visit to South Africa to drum up foreign investment to revive the country’s moribund economy.

Since his last State visit in 1994, South Africa has had four different presidents and the country’s economy has grown in leaps and bounds. Until recently, South Africa was the continent’s largest economy.

On the other hand, Zimbabwe’s economy is in an unprecedented meltdown since Mugabe took over after the heavily disputed 2013 harmonised elections, and only huge foreign capital can change the country’s economic fortunes.

As such, it is only proper that Mugabe uses his influence as chairman of the African Union (AU) and the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) to ask for South Africa’s assistance in dealing with scourges of low growth, low liquidity and high unemployment.

Despite Mugabe’s failure to acknowledge South Africa’s influence in the region, Zimbabwe has over the years relied heavily on its neighbour for various economic, political and social support among other things.

Zimbabwe imports goods worth about $2 billion from its biggest trading partner — South Africa, while the country exports goods worth about $170 million to Africa’s second largest economy.

The trade deficit against Zimbabwe is very huge as it drains the economy of vital liquidity meant to revive operations of various companies.

Zimbabwe’s ageing factories haven’t been able to recapitalise and struggle to compete with their more efficient competitors in South Africa.

Hence there is need to find lasting solutions to help improve trade relations between the neighbouring countries.

As it stands, only South Africa is benefiting from the economic malaise in Zimbabwe caused by incompetence, mismanagement and gross corruption in the Zanu PF-led government.

Unless Zanu PF stops implementing very destructive and senseless economic policies such as the indigenisation law, it would be difficult for Zimbabwe to create a stronger economy that operates competitively.

There are also unconfirmed reports that the nonagenarian leader will use the State visit to beg for cash from President Jacob Zuma to pay civil servants and pay for commitments Zimbabwe has taken on after Mugabe’s election to the chair of both Sadc and the African Union.

But this is very unlikely considering that South Africa is currently facing economic challenges of its own as evidenced by frequent power cuts, rising unemployment and massive influx of immigrants.

At the moment, Mugabe’s best bet should be largely on consolidation of bilateral ties between the two African nations.

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