Pretoria – President of Zimbabwe Emmerson Mnangagwa has thanked South Africa after Pretoria’s International Relations and Co-operation Minister Naledi Pandor officially handed over 272 tons of maize meal, out of 5,625 tons worth R50 million (about US$3.6 million) pledged by South Africa.
State-owned newspaper The Herald reported that during the handover in Harare on Africa Day, May 25, Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe wants to join South Africa in the implementation of policies to accelerate the modernisation and industrialisation agenda beneficial to both countries.
“My government stands ready to deepen the fraternal relations between our two countries and to continue working with South Africa as we implement robust and responsive policies to accelerate modernisation, industrialisation and sustainable socio-economic development, for the mutual benefit of our people,” Mnangagwa was quoted as saying in The Herald.
Mnangagwa said it was significant that the gift of maize meal from South Africa, earmarked for victims of tropical cyclone Idai, was handed over on Africa Day.
“We are pleased to be receiving this donation especially today on May 25, Africa Day, when the whole continent is celebrating the successes of our collective fight against colonialism and apartheid.
“We remain emboldened to realise a more prosperous and peaceful Africa as envisioned by our founding fathers and Agenda 2063,” Mnangagwa said.
The event was attended by numerous Zimbabwean government officials, including Vice-President Constantino Nyikadzino Chiwenga.
Pandor said South Africa attaches great value to its relationship with Zimbabwe.
“There are fair-weather friends and there are friends who stick with you through raging storms. Zimbabwe has been that friend that stood with us as we braved through the storms of colonialism and apartheid. As the saying goes, a friend in need is a friend indeed,” she said.
“It is in this spirit of cordial working relations, that when our fellow neighbour was in need, we responded with urgency. It is unfortunate that the global pandemic of Covid-19 hindered the urgency in which the South African government could respond to assist their fellow neighbour.”
Pandor noted that the travel restrictions and slow economic activity caused by national lockdowns had stalled the progress on this project, but it remained high on South Africa’s list of priorities as the country worked harder to ensure delivery at the first opportune time.
Pandor said South Africa was recovering from a devastating drought and was now in a position to share some of its surplus food.
“Your Excellency, with the good rainy season in our region after the devastating droughts of El Niño, we have tapped into our land, and it has produced enough grains to allow us to share. The cost of our pledge was R50 million and from that amount we were able to secure 450,000 bags of 12.5kg of maize meal,” said Pandor.
“South Africa will be responsible for the transportation costs to Harare and for further delivery and distribution to the identified 12 districts. The first tranche thereof has arrived here in Harare and will be sent to the locations that were affected by cyclone Idai.”
The rest of the maize meal consignments will be delivered to Zimbabwe throughout the year until the end of September.
However, the Zimbabwe Community in South Africa, led by Nqabutho Nicholas Mabhena, lamented that the flourishing relationship between Harare and Pretoria has some glaring shortcomings.
“Our concern is that this relation does not address the fundamental issues that have driven thousands of Zimbabweans to South Africa. We hope that the two governments will work together in ensuring that there is economic development in Zimbabwe,” said Mabhena.
“We cannot continue to have Zimbabwe’s economy collapsing, with its young people flocking to South Africa, causing competition of resources in South Africa which then results in attacks of migrants and xenophobia.”
African News Agency (ANA)