Sources in the coalition government said on Thursday representatives from the Zimbabwe government balked at appending their signatures on the treaty after their South African counterparts insisted that the deal should cover land investments.
It is understood that the Zimbabwean government officials pointed out that land was a national resource, which should not be covered by any trade agreement.
“The deal balked due to the land issue,” said a government source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
“The South Africans wanted land to be covered under the treaty but we indicated to them that it is not the policy of the Zimbabwe government,” said the source.
The official said Zimbabweans authorities were adamant that even existing bilateral investment protection agreements were not immune from the government’s controversial land reforms, hence the takeover of some farms that previously belonged to multinationals such as the case of the Dutch, French, Italians and English farmers.
Gorden Moyo, the minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office, on Thursday confirmed no deal was signed between Harare and Pretoria but was reluctant to disclose the cause of the dispute.
“We did not sign the treaty but dialogue is continuing,” said Moyo.
“We hope the agreement is going to be signed soon,” said Moyo. “I can not categorically say its land save to say that there are some areas that needed more clarification and robust debate,” said Moyo.
But sources insist that the failure to conclude the deal was due to investments including land. South African potential investors have shown interest in investing in Zimbabwe following the formation of the new government.
Welshman Ncube, the Minister of Industry and International Trade, said he was confident a deal would be struck soon after outstanding issues on the treaty had been ironed out.
“We are in talks and hopefully we will be able to sign the treaty soon rather than later,” said Ncube, who on Tuesday traveled for a COMESA preparatory meeting.