CAPE TOWN, (Xinhua) -- Visiting Zimbabwe’s
President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Thursday urged his countrymen residing abroad to
return home following the resignation of former President Robert Mugabe.
It’s time for Zimbabwean
nationals in the diaspora to return home, Mnangagwa told a crowd of Zimbabweans
in Pretoria during a visit to South Africa.
Millions of Zimbabweans
fled to foreign countries, most of them to South Africa, during Mugabe’s 37-year
Zimbabwean nationals living in South Africa should return home and put the
skills that they have acquired in the neighboring country to great use in the
rebuilding of the Zimbabwean economy and development of their motherland.
“I appeal to you to come
to Zimbabwe ... Zimbabwe is your home,” he said, adding that from now on
Zimbabwe is now open for business.
He urged his countryment
to let bygones be bygones and look in the future with hope.
Mnangagwa thanked his
South African counterpart Jacob Zuma for the warmth and hospitality provided to
Zimbabweans living in South Africa.
Earlier on Thursday,
Mnangagwa met with Zuma and both leaders pledged to strengthen economic trade
and cooperation between the two countries.
Mnangagwa was on his
first working visit to South Africa, which was also his first official visit
outside of Zimbabwe since his assumption of office on November 24, 2017
The two presidents
emphasized the warm historical relations between the two countries and the need
to ensure the further deepening of these relations, South African presidential
spokesperson Bongani Ngqulunga said.
The two heads of state
agreed on the need to strengthen economic cooperation and expand economic and
trade relations between the two countries, and to make this a key feature of the
cooperation agenda, in support of Mnangagwa’s mission to revive the Zimbabwean
economy, said Ngqulunga.
The Zimbabwean economy
has been hard hit by sanctions imposed by Western countries and other challenges
over many years.
According to the
Zimbabwe’s embassy in South Africa, the main purpose of Mnangagwa’s visit was to
attract investments from South Africa.
South Africa and
Zimbabwe enjoy cordial bilateral relations underpinned by strong historical and
political bonds that date back to the era of the liberation struggle.
The two countries have
convened their Bi-National Commission (BNC) meeting every year since 2015. The
BNC is co-chaired by the two heads of state.
The previous session of
the BNC was held on October 3,2017, with the participation of Mugabe, who was
deposed not long after he returned home.
South Africa and
Zimbabwe have signed over 40 memoranda of understanding and agreements, covering
wide aspects including security, energy, agriculture, mining, infrastructure
development, trade, transport and arts and culture.
Trade between the two
countries has seen exponential growth over the years with Zimbabwe being one of
South Africa’ s top five trading partners in the region and the continent.
South African exports to
Zimbabwe in 2016 were worth 29.3 billion rand (about 231 million U.S. dollars),
official statistics show.