SA, Zim to sign bilateral agreements

Zimbabwe’s economy has been on a downturn for more than a decade due to low growth, low liquidity and high unemployment.

In March, the International Monetary Fund said that the country faced a “difficult” economic outlook with growth set to weaken again this year.

Late last year the Zimbabwean finance minister led a team of officials on a visit to South Africa to try to convince potential investors that the country was finally on the mend.

The Zimbabwean officials said it was in the interest of South Africa to help grow its neighbour’s economy to stop the tide of economic refugees who have crossed the border seeking work.

Zimbabwe’s economy entered a tailspin after the launch of controversial land reforms 14 years ago. By 2008, inflation had officially peaked at 231 000 000% before the government stopped counting.

The South African government said President Jacob Zuma and Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe would hold talks before a bilateral business forum scheduled for Thursday.

“The economies of the two countries are historically and inextricably linked,” it said in a statement.

“Due to its geographical proximity to South Africa, Zimbabwe’s political and economic situation has a direct impact on South Africa.”

A number of bilateral agreements will be signed. The first one relates to the establishment of a bi-national commission and will be signed by International Relations and Co-operation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane and Zimbabwe’s Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi.

A memorandum of understanding between the two governments on diplomatic consultations will be signed by Nkoana-Mashabane and Mumbengegwi.

An agreement will also be signed regarding mutual assistance between the countries’ customs administrations.

An agreement between South Africa and Zimbabwe on co-operation on water resource management and the establishment and functioning of the Joint Water Commission will be signed by Water Affairs Minister Nomvula Mokonyane and Zimbabwe’s Environment Minister Saviour Kasukuwere.

After Mugabe’s arrival and a welcome ceremony, he and Zuma would hold a “tete-a-tete”, according to the programme, followed by a photo opportunity. – AFP,

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