No SA bailout for Zimbabwe

14 March 2019 | Economics

Fanuel Jongwe - South African President Cyril Ramaphosa concluded a much-anticipated visit to Zimbabwe on Tuesday, dashing any lingering hopes that his country would bail out its economically-troubled neighbour.

Ramaphosa commended the new administration of Emmerson Mnangagwa for its bid to revive the economy and promised to explore a number of options of financial help.

But otherwise he made no concrete offer of help, voicing a "commitment to work with Zimbabwe in addressing the socio-economic challenges."

"South Africa stands ready to render support to Zimbabwe within our means in your quest for economic renewal," he said, during the talks held at a Harare hotel.

Last year Zimbabwe requested US$1.2 billion in emergency credit from South Africa, the most advanced economy south of the Sahara, but Pretoria indicated it did not have the funds.

In a joint statement issued after the 24-hour visit, the two governments said they were exploring ways to help Zimbabwe financially.

One of them would be a loan facility from South African private banks to the Zimbabwe private businesses.

The loans will be guaranteed "by the South African government with an appropriate counter-guarantee from the Zimbabwe government", said the statement.

An almost similar deal was struck last month with the diamond-rich Botswana, involving a US$100-million credit from private banks in both countries but available to Botswana private companies doing business in Zimbabwe.

"We not giving them a single loan," president Mokgweetsi Masisi said in Gaborone after a visit to Harare, dismissing media reports that the credit was being made available by the state.

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