Zuma to visit Zimbabwe

2009-08-24 18:07

Johannesburg - President Jacob Zuma is set to visit Zimbabwe this week to speak at a farm trade show, a spokesperson said on Monday, amid tensions in the fledgling unity government.

Zuma's trip, his first to Zimbabwe since he was elected in May, comes less than three weeks after he met with the country's Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai in Johannesburg.

After that meeting, Zuma said he would discuss "very weighty issues" about the power-sharing deal with Zimbabwe's long-serving President Robert Mugabe.

Zuma spokesperson Zingaphi Jakuja confirmed the trip but said she could not yet provide details on the agenda.

About trade show, not govt

Mugabe's spokesperson George Charamba insisted in state media that Zuma's visit was only to officially open the trade fair, which began on Monday and ends on Saturday.

"President Jacob Zuma is coming here to officially open the Agricultural Show and not to resolve the Movement for Democratic Change issues," Charamba told the state-run Herald.

Tsvangirai's MDC has raised a range of disputed issues in the power-sharing deal, including Mugabe's unilateral re-appointment of the central bank governor and the attorney general.

South Africa is the current chair of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), architect of the power-sharing agreement.

Investment pact delayed

Zuma's visit also comes as an investment pact between the countries is being delayed by demands in South Africa that Zimbabwe be forced to respect any land investments.

Finance Minister Tendai Biti, a top Tsvangirai adviser, recently told a parliamentary committee that the Zimbabwe government was behaving "dishonourably" in delaying the pact.

"The South African government is trying to help us, but we are refusing to help ourselves," he said.

In April, a South African business delegation visited the country and met with Mugabe and other senior Zimbabwean government officials, but expressed concerns on guarantees of security of their investments.

South Africa is Zimbabwe's biggest trading partner in the region.