Mabasa Sasa in TSHWANE, South Africa

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President Mugabe has a packed programme for the duration of his historic two-day State visit to South Africa, including crucial deliberations with President Jacob Zuma and the business community.

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Accompanied by eight Cabinet ministers, President Mugabe’s delegation will seek to give a fillip to the historically solid economic, political and cultural ties between the two neighbours.

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This is the sadc and African Union Chairman’s first State visit to South Africa in 21 years, with South Africa International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane saying focus was “largely on consolidation of our bilateral ties, political and economic” co-operation. Today, President Mugabe will head to Union Buildings, the seat of the South African government, where he will first inspect a guard of honour before having a tete-a-tete with President Zuma.

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Thereafter, the two leaders will engage in closed-door talks that will set the pace for the plenary session of ministers that is expected to result in a Bi-National Commission Agreement to further trade and broader economic ties.

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A private lunch follows, and then there will be a visit to Tshwane’s Freedom Park, where people killed in various wars — from World War I to the independence struggle — are interred.

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President Mugabe will then have closed door talks with South Africa Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, before the day is wound down by a State banquet that President Zuma will host for his guest.

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On Thursday, President Mugabe begins by meeting the business community, an engagement that is expected to take up about half his day leading to a private lunch.

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The Zimbabwean leader will then tour the Hector Pieterson Memorial in Soweto, which was built to immortalise the 1976 Sharpeville Massacre and as a symbol of resistance to apartheid. Hector Pieterson became globally known when photographer Sam Nzima captured an image of the dying 13-year-old boy after police shot him and a fellow pupil carried him away from the scene of the massacre as his sister ran crying beside him.

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