BY XOLISANI NCUBE
President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s international re-engagement bid is set to bear fruits with the arrival of his Botswana counterpart, Mokgweetsi Masisi, with the two leaders expected to lead talks for a possible bailout of $500 million and one billion pula to Zimbabwe.
Masisi landed in Harare yesterday evening and was welcomed at Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport by Mnangagwa and his two Vice-Presidents Constantino Chiwenga and Kembo Mohadi.
Yesterday evening, Masisi’s office denied that it had promised a bailout to the Mnangagwa administration, but said they are in talks under a bi-national commission on issues “mutually beneficial to the peoples of the two countries”.
Mnangagwa last night hosted a State banquet in honour of the visiting Botswana leader. The two leaders will today jointly hold the inaugural Zimbabwe-Botswana Bi-National Commission, conference.
Secretary for Foreign Affairs, James Manzou said at least eight bilateral agreements would be signed today.
“As we have said already, eight memoranda of understanding and agreements, covering political and diplomatic, economic, social (and) defence and security sectors will be signed during this session,” Manzou said.
Yesterday, a meeting of Foreign Affairs and International Trade ministers was held in Harare ahead of the conference. Relations between Harare and Gaborone were frosty for close to a decade when Botswana’s ex-President Ian Khama, who stepped down in 2018, routinely disapproved of former President Robert Mugabe being in power for too long.
A military coup in 2017 forced Mugabe to resign, ending his 37-year rule.
The loan will consist of $500 million for Zimbabwe’s diamond industry and a further one billion pula fund for private companies.
The visit by Masisi comes as South African leader Cyril Ramaphosa is also set to visit Harare next month.
The leaders of both countries have recently called for Western sanctions, still in force on some Zimbabwean leaders and institutions, to be lifted.