By Kingston Ndabatei
THE Botswana government Wednesday denied offering a US$600 million bail out to Zimbabwe.
The denial coincided with a visit Wednesday evening of its President Mokgweetsi Masisi to attend the first Bi-National Commission between the two countries.
Zimbabwean media has been awash with news that the diamond rich country had extended a $600 million bail out to its troubled neighbour to support the latter’s diamond industry and local private firms.
The loan, according to Foreign Affairs and International Trade Secretary James Manzou, will consist of $500 million for Zimbabwe’s diamond industry and a further $100 million to help private companies, whose operations have been hamstrung by the dollar shortage.
But in a statement, President Masisi’s office said no decision had yet been made describing the claims as baseless.
“The Office of the President wishes to inform members of the public that the Government of the Republic of Botswana and the Government of the Republic Zimbabwe are currently holding discussions under the framework of the Bi-National Commission which covers a wide range of issues which are mutually beneficial to the peoples of the two countries.
“As such, media reports that are currently circulating about the line of credit worth Six Hundred Million United States Dollars that the Government of Botswana has committed itself to extend to the Republic of Zimbabwe are unfounded,” the statement read.
It added: “We wish to advise members of the public that in accordance with International practice, a communique which summarises the outcomes of the meeting will be issued following the conclusion of the Bi-National Commission.”
Mnangagwa is desperate for financial support to fund private sector growth and capital projects as he seeks to break Zimbabwe’s nearly two decades long economic decline under former President Robert Mugabe.