HARARE – Relations between Zimbabwe and South Africa are set to reach greater levels driven by the new governments that have taken over in the respective countries, a diplomat said on Wednesday.
Zimbabwe last November witnessed a leadership change that saw President Emmerson Mnangagwa taking over from President Robert Mugabe while in the neighbouring South Africa, President Cyril Ramaphosa this month succeeded former President Jacob Zuma.
South African ambassador to Zimbabwe Mphakama Mbete said the two countries, which already enjoy all round cordial relations, would certainly further enhance their relations under the two new leaders.
“The relationship between the two countries is set to flourish, these are two dynamic leaders (President Mnangagwa and President Ramaphosa) who need to meet to work out how they are going to catapult the relationship between the two countries to a higher level,” he told reporters after paying a courtesy call on Vice President Kembo Mohadi.
VP Mohadi told reporters the two countries had been cooperating in various aspects “even from way before South Africa became independent.”
He said it was imperative for the two countries to continuously cement ties and remain members of the regional grouping the Southern African Development Community.
On the economic front, collaboration was key in ensuring that Zimbabwe managed to reduce its trade deficit in its trade with South Africa.
“Economically South Africa and Zimbabwe have always traded but the trade has always been in favor of South Africa,” VP Mohadi said.
“We import more from South Africa than they import from us. There is nothing untoward about it, the reason being that South Africa is the bigger economy and we are a smaller economy.”
He said Zimbabwe would reduce the deficit if it managed to attract some of the big South African firms to set up shop in the country.
“Definitely we can reduce it (trade deficit) as we will be producing for Zimbabwe, South Africa and the entire continent and that way our economy will grow,” he said.
Mbete said it was imperative the two countries kept alive the annual Bi-National Commission set up to continuously review and enhance relations between the two countries. – New Ziana