SA rolls out red carpet for Zimbabwean tyrant

SOUTH Africa rolled out the red carpet for Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe when the 91-year-old statesman came to the Union Buildings to meet with President Jacob Zuma on Wednesday during an official state visit.

\n

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, left, greets Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, right, as President Jacob Zuma looks on during a state visit to SA on Wednesday.  Picture: GCIS

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, left, greets Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, right, as President Jacob Zuma looks on during a state visit to SA on Wednesday. Picture: GCIS

\n

 

\n

Mr Mugabe and Mr Zuma appeared for a procession ceremony at the Union Buildings with a brass band giving renditions of both countries’ anthems while the heads of state stood facing them on the overcast morning.

\n

This was Mr Mugabe’s first official state visit to SA in 20 years. He also visited SA in late 2013 for the memorial service and funeral of former South African president Nelson Mandela.

\n

While speculation is rife that Mr Mugabe came to SA seeking a bail-out from Zimbabwe’s trade deficit — reportedly more than R30bn — the itinerary of the visit to the Union Buildings in Pretoria includes the signing of five new agreements between the two countries.

\n

SA remains the biggest trade partner for Zimbabwe on the continent and internationally, trading in agriculture and textiles.

\n

Following the renditions of the anthems, Mr Zuma and Mr Mugabe held a tete-a-tete meeting. Agreements to be signed include one on diplomatic consultations and one to establish a bilateral commission.

\n

These are to be signed by SA International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane and her Zimbabwean counterpart Simbarashe Mumbengegwi.

\n

Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene and his counterpart Patrick Chinamasa will sign an agreement on customs administration. An agreement on water management and the establishment of a joint water commission will also be signed.