All eyes on SA's Ramaphosa, ED. . . as Harare looks for economic help from Pretoria

With Zimbabwe’s long-running economic challenges stubbornly refusing to go away, all eyes will be on President Emmerson Mnangagwa and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa as the two leaders meet in Harare today — amid local hopes that Pretoria will extend critically-needed financial assistance to Harare.

Ramaphosa is formally in Harare to co-chair the third session of the Zimbabwe-South Africa Bi-National Commission (BNC) — which was established in 2015 — in a bid to strengthen relations between the two countries.

The crucial meeting will see the two leaders reviewing the progress which has been made with regards to the implementation of the commission’s 45 key bilateral agreements — which span trade and investment, health, labour, migration, defence, taxation, tourism, water and the environment.
Among the agenda items that Harare and Pretoria are expected to look into, are the plans for a one-stop border post at Beitbridge and permits for the millions of Zimbabweans living in South Africa.
But it is the prospects of South Africa extending financial assistance to Zimbabwe that most locals will be watching out for.
“With the West renewing and extending their sanctions on Zimbabwe in recent weeks, we are all hoping that our South African brothers will come to the party in terms of supporting us,” a ruling Zanu PF official told the Daily News yesterday.
This comes as Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor John Mangudya told Parliament yesterday that the country was choking under the weight of sanctions which had been imposed on Harare by the West — which he said was blocking Zimbabwe from accessing much-needed international lines of credit.
“Zimbabwe has very limited access to foreign finance, yet we are so dependent on foreign currency.
“The country is going through difficult times because of many factors. It’s only a few banks that can take Zimbabwe’s risk today because we are under sanctions,” he said.
“These sanctions are in three parts. First is Zidera which states that no one should give Zimbabwe development finance and this includes the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the African Development Bank.
“Then there is the Office of Foreign Assets Control (Ofac) which states that Zimbabwe’s transactions must be scrutinised for compliance risks ... and Agoa (African Growth and Opportunity Act) that deprives Zimbabwe of access to markets.
“Based on these, I am surprised why parliamentarians are asking why we are getting foreign currency from other institutions to help Zimbabwe,” Mangudya told the Public Accounts and Budget, Finance and Economic Development committees in Parliament yesterday.
The Mnangagwa-Ramaphosa meeting also comes as Zimbabwe has borrowed nearly one billion United States dollars from the African Export and Import (Afrexim) bank — which it plans to repay mainly through gold earnings for the next five years.
Mangudya revealed yesterday that the central bank was paying about US$5 million a month towards settling the debt, when the country was earning about US$16 million a month from its gold resource.
Zimbabwe was first slapped with a raft of sanctions by the United States and the European Union nearly two decades ago, following the country’s chaotic land reforms, as well as the government’s then vicious crackdown against the independent media and opposition parties.
The fall of former president Robert Mugabe, whose ruinous four decades in power was ended by a stunning military coup in November 2017, raised hopes that both the EU and the US would scrap the sanctions.
However, following the post July 30, 2018 poll killings in which six civilians died after the army used live ammunition to break ugly demonstrations in Harare, and the recent riots in which up to 20 people lost their lives, both the EU and the US have kept their sanctions.
“On March 6, 2003, by Executive Order 13288, the President declared a national emergency and blocked the property of certain persons, pursuant to the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701-1706), to deal with the unusual and extraordinary threat to the foreign policy of the United States constituted by the actions and policies of certain members of the Government of Zimbabwe and other persons to undermine … democratic processes or institutions.
“These actions and policies had contributed to the deliberate breakdown in the rule of law in Zimbabwe, to politically motivated violence and intimidation in that country, and to political and economic instability in the southern African region.
“The actions and policies of these persons continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the foreign policy of the United States.
“For this reason, the national emergency declared on March 6, 2003, and the measures adopted on that date, on November 22, 2005, and on July 25, 2008, to deal with that emergency, must continue in effect beyond March 6, 2019.
“Therefore … I am continuing for one year the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13288,” US President Donald Trump said last week when he extended sanctions against Zimbabwe.

    Comments (1)

    Ordinary citizens know that the RSA BnC is a non-event the usual brothers coming together for a cup of tea and they are not holding their breath. It is mischievious for Mangudya to blame sanctions on the regime's failures. Each time the sanctions are being reviewed the regime is given opportunity via a list of reforms that it must implement to get the sanctions lifted. The regime always dismiss the reforms with their tired regime change mantra.

    Sinyo - 13 March 2019

    Post a comment

    Readers are kindly requested to refrain from using abusive, vulgar, racist, tribalistic, sexist, discriminatory and hurtful language when posting their comments on the Daily News website.
    Those who transgress this civilised etiquette will be barred from contributing to our online discussions.
    - Editor

    Your email address will not be shared.