Kenyan president cancels state visit to Zimbabwe, following death of predecessor

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Uhuru Kenyatta (File: AFP)
Uhuru Kenyatta (File: AFP)
  • Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta was supposed to open the Zimbabwe International Trade fair and have a street named after him.
  • However, he had to cancel his state visit to mourn after the death of his predecessor, Emilio Stanley Mwai Kibaki.
  • Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced Kenyatta's cancellation.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta cancelled his state visit to Zimbabwe this week to mourn after the death of his predecessor Emilio Stanley Mwai Kibaki.

Kibaki, Kenya's third president since independence from Britain in 1963, died last week at the age of 90.

In a statement, Kenyatta described him as "the gentleman of Kenyan politics" and a  "quintessential patriot whose legacy of civic responsibility will continue to inspire generations of Kenyans long into our future".

READ | Former Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki dies at 90 

Zimbabwe's President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who invited Kenyatta to officially open the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF), said in a statement: "President Kenyatta is no longer coming for the ZITF as there is a national bereavement in Kenya following the death of former President Mwai Kibaki."

Besides opening the 62nd edition of the ZITF on 29 April, Mnangagwa had plans to name a street after Kenyatta in Zimbabwe's second-largest city, Bulawayo.

According to the ZITF, 514 exhibitors from 14 countries - South Africa, Botswana; Angola; Ethiopia; Kenya; Malawi; Mozambique; Namibia; Tanzania; Zambia; Belarus; Britain; Indonesia and Japan - will exhibit. However, China which has an investment footprint in Zimbabwe, is not part of the exhibitors.

The ZITF is Zimbabwe's prime investment expo and this year it runs under the theme: "Rethink, reimagine, reinvent value chains for economic development."

Economic turmoil

Sending a different signal, Mnangagwa told a Zanu-PF gathering in Epworth, about 45 km south-east of Harare, on Saturday that he would deal with banks and companies accused of manipulating the local currency.

He added that they were doing so at the behest of "foreign countries".

READ MORE | Zimbabwe’s president warns banks could be stripped of licenses

"These economic players are not acting alone, they are being sent by foreign countries hostile to Zimbabwe to weaken our local currency. So we are devising methods to deal with them, we will close some big companies and banks," he said.

In recent weeks, the Zimbabwean dollar took a beating and the cost of living is on the rise. Bread now costs R30 a loaf up from R15 last month and other basic commodities, such as cooking oil, now cost R150 per two-litre bottle.

The Zimbabwe Confederation of Industries (CZI) warned that the local dollar was "on the brink of rejection in the face of exchange instability and increasing inflation."

The News24 Africa Desk is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation. The stories produced through the Africa Desk and the opinions and statements that may be contained herein do not reflect those of the Hanns Seidel Foundation.
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