The Sunday Mail
President Emmerson Mnangagwa and South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa are committed to working on joint economic development projects, as Zimbabwe’s leader said elections would be held in July.
Briefing journalists after the two Heads of State and Government met at Munhumutapa Building in Harare yesterday, President Mnangagwa said they had discussed investment in roads, railways, energy and trade, which could score quick-wins for Zimbabwe’s economy.
President Mnangagwa said, “His Excellency President Cyril Ramaphosa, President of South Africa, has come to Zimbabwe to exchange notes about the situation in South Africa and in Zimbabwe.
“On my part, I was pleased that we had a one-on-one and we were able to look at challenges which we face as the new leaders of our respective countries, share these challenges and how we can overcome them.
“For instance, with regards to Zimbabwe we have infrastructure challenges, we have poor roads, poor railway; the economy is down. We also need electricity, energy, from South Africa. All these issues are issues we discussed and I am happy to say my brother was very accommodative.”
President Ramaphosa said the courtesy call on President Mnangagwa had provided an opportunity to discuss economic matters.
He said, “It was a courtesy call but we used the opportunity to have a number of discussions on various issues; issues that have to do with challenges we are facing in the region, mostly economic challenges, and we reaffirmed our willingness to work together, to improve and grow the economies of our two respective countries.
“So, this was a great opportunity to confirm that South Africa and Zimbabwe are joined at the hip and will find clever ways of growing our economies and co-operate on matters of trade, matters of finding various projects that we can work together on.”
Turning to political affairs, President Mnangagwa said Zimbabweans would vote in July in what are expected to be peaceful, free and transparent polls.
“As a nation, (ruling) party and Government, we are looking forward to very peaceful, transparent and harmonised elections in July this year. I have already invited all political parties in Zimbabwe to a roundtable where we all commit ourselves to non-violence but unfortunately we were supposed to meet two days ago but when I asked them to come.”
President Mnangagwa said the meeting would have been convened sooner, but the sheer number of parties that have thus far expressed their intention to participate in the elections placed at 108 so far – meant things had not moved as quickly as he desired.
He expressed pleasure with the smooth transition from the Mr Robert Mugabe era, while President Ramaphosa also spoke about the equally peacefull change-over from former President Jacob Zuma’s administration.
“Patience is that which really helped us to get where we are. We have managed to transition our way into where we are today, this is a new dawn in South Africa,” South Africa’s leader said.
On land reform, President Ramaphosa said South Africa would draw lessons from Zimbabwe which undertook large-scale redistribution 17 years ago.
“We as South Africa are going through an extensive debate on the issue of land. The ANC Conference, as you well know, took a decision at its 54th Conference, and the matter was also resolved in our Parliament. Those two decisions have since ignited very rich and engaging dialogue.
“On how we can deal with the issue of land, we are also going to be looking at those in the region and in the world who have dealt with the question of land and how best they have done so.
“We are going to be drawing some examples and some lessons from Zimbabwe and a number of other countries. Our debate and discussion is going to continue until it matures to a very firm position which will then be adopted by our national Parliament.
“So right now, it’s an exciting moment in our country and we have said to South Africans, they should not be fearful, they should not be filled with great anxiety.
“We are involved in a very enriching process of debating the matter, like we did as moved to end apartheid. Discussions to end apartheid were extensive and rich which ended with a very good outcome and likewise on land, I think we will end with a good outcome.”