File photo shows Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa welcoming South African President Cyril Ramaphosa in Harare, Zimbabwe, March 17, 2018. (Xinhua/Wanda)
by Gretinah Machingura
HARARE, March 12 (Xinhua) -- South Africa is holding discussions with Zimbabwe on the possibility of extending financial assistance to the sanctions-hit country and help it to revive its struggling economy, visiting South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said Tuesday.
He said during the third session of the Bi-National Commission (BNC) between Zimbabwe and South Africa that his government was ready to render support to Zimbabwe to address socio-economic challenges it is facing.
"South Africa stands ready to render support to Zimbabwe within our means in your quest for economic renewal," Ramaphosa said.
South Africa is one of the countries in the region that has been vocal in calling for Western sanctions on Zimbabwe to be lifted.
Ramaphosa repeated his call for the restrictive measures to be lifted, saying the sanctions were "unfair and unjustified" and must be removed as of "yesterday".
"We want to see meaningful support being given to Zimbabwe by international development partners because Zimbabwe does deserve the support that the world can give," he said.
Ramaphosa confirmed that there were ongoing discussions between the two countries for a financial bailout to Zimbabwe, including a financing facility to Zimbabwe's private sector.
"We discussed that (financial assistance) in greater detail and our discussions are ongoing and our teams are busy finding workable solutions," Ramaphosa said.
The two countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding to strengthen cooperation in agriculture, as well as about 45 special types of agreements to boost cooperation in such areas as trade, investment, air transport, railway and mining.
"This is one of the most meaningful and successful BNCs we have had to date," Ramaphosa said.
South Africa is Zimbabwe's largest trading partner.
Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa called for greater cooperation between the countries in tackling challenges they face, which he said include volatility in economies, corruption, land redistribution and utilization, climate change, food insecurity, social inequality, lack of adequate housing and health care as well as unemployment.
"We will not achieve much success alone neither can we achieve the desired results without the help of friends such as South Africa. We must therefore continue to work closely together, hand in hand, as we journey towards the progress and prosperity of our people.
"I exhort our two countries to continue to ward off the machinations of those who wish to break our strong ties," he said.
He also thanked South Africa's unwavering support in calling for the unconditional removal of sanctions on Zimbabwe.
Mnangagwa reassured South African investors that the Zimbabwe government will offer protection and security to their investments.
"We are open for dialogue in order to address the challenges that they may face during their operations in Zimbabwe," he said. Enditem