Zimbabwe president makes first foreign trip to South Africa

December 21, 2017

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Thursday made a pitch to investors in South Africa on his first foreign trip as head of state, visiting a country where he sought refuge after being fired as deputy president early last month.

Mnangagwa made the case that economically struggling Zimbabwe is an attractive business prospect after the Nov. 21 resignation of former leader Robert Mugabe, whose 37-year rule ended after a military takeover.

“From now on Zimbabwe is open for business,” Mnangagwa said in remarks at the Zimbabwean embassy in Pretoria, the South African capital. He said his administration will emphasize trade and economic growth, and “to achieve that we need to revisit our own legislation in Zimbabwe to open up business.”

The president addressed Zimbabwe’s large diaspora, many of whom left their homeland in search of economic opportunities and more freedoms abroad. Several million Zimbabweans live in South Africa.

“You are so many here in the diaspora because in particular of economic challenges that besiege our country,” Mnangagwa said, adding that Zimbabweans should let “bygones be bygones and look into the future with hope.”

He also met South African President Jacob Zuma and remarked that he was happy to be back in the country, according to the African News Agency.

Mnangagwa fled to South Africa after Mugabe dismissed him during factional fighting in Zimbabwe’s ruling party. The firing prompted a backlash against Mugabe and Mnangagwa returned to Zimbabwe, where he was sworn in as president.

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