‘Wake up people; Mugabe not in SA to beg’

2015-04-08 11:33

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe is not on a “begging visit” to South Africa, his information minister Jonathan Moyo claimed today.

Mugabe (91) is on the second day of a state visit to Zimbabwe’s main trading partner.

There has been speculation that he will ask for funding help, particularly in relation to a Southern African Development Community summit on industrialisation that is slated to take place in Zimbabwe at the end of April. Moyo tweeted:

The information minister was one of a number of top ruling Zanu-PF party officials who saw Mugabe off at Harare International Airport yesterday afternoon.

Mugabe was accompanied by his wife, Grace, who has been dogged by rumours of ill health since an operation – officially on her appendix – in January.

Pictures of the pair arriving at Waterkloof Air Force Base showed them both smiling and apparently in good form.

Zimbabwe online press analyst Zim Media Watch tweeted of the photos: “Hard not to compare this to reports of [Grace’s] ‘grave illness’.”

The official Herald newspaper, which is the voice of Mugabe’s government, suggested that bilateral issues that could be discussed included delays in handing out Zimbabwe Special Permits, which are given to Zimbabwean immigrants who want their stay in South Africa to be legal, and recent verbal attacks on foreigners in South Africa.

Zimbabwe has at least one million nationals in South Africa, not all of them legally resident. Many back home depend on their remittances to make ends meet as Zimbabwe’s economy dips back into difficulties.

During his visit Mugabe is expected to sign a “binational commission agreement” between Zimbabwe and South Africa, the Herald reported. The long-time Zimbabwe leader will discuss regional development and security issues with President Jacob Zuma, the report added.

This is Mugabe’s first state visit to South Africa since August 1994, when he was the first African leader to pay a state visit after Nelson Mandela was inaugurated. He has made a number of other trips to South Africa since 1994, but none of them are understood to have been state visits.

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