South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, who was in Geneva, Switzerland for the release of a report by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), urged the European Union to lift whatever sanctions it may still have on the southern African nation because the nation is on the path to great reform.
“We insist that this needs to be supported because Zimbabwe has turned a wonderful corner,” Ramaphosa said. The EU and the United States imposed sanctions against Zimbabwe in 2000 after they accused former leader Robert Mugabe of human rights violations, election rigging and the repression of media freedom.
Ramaphosa’s statement comes after violent demonstrations over a fuel price hike drove Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa to cancel an appearance at the World Economic Forum in Davos, where he was expected to court foreign investment, and return home.
Meanwhile, it was reliably learned, that South Africa is planning to extend short-term credit to Zimbabwe and also to help it write off its US$7.4billion external debt, to prevent its neighbor spiraling out of control into economic and social chaos. However, critics point out that this will be a waste of money unless it can pressure Zanu-PF to make political reforms.
Finance Minister Tito Mboweni disclosed the plan in a recent media interview, as Zimbabwe slipped closer to the brink after a massive fuel price hike on January 12 led to a general strike and then widespread street protests, many of which were violently suppressed by state
“It’s an act of self-delusion if you think you can avoid talking politics as you engage Zimbabwe, as in many other places,” Piers Pigou, senior consultant to the International Crisis Group said in response to Mboweni’s disclosure. Zimbabwe is clearly desperate for a bailout from South Africa or any of its other allies to resolve an economic crisis which is slipping out of control.