President Mnangagwa in South Africa

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By Kingston Ndabatei

PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa surprisingly turned up in neighbouring South Africa Thursday to attend an outreach meeting organised for African leaders by the BRICS group.

The group brings together five major emerging economies – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

The Pretoria government’s department of international relations and cooperation (DIRCO) released a picture of Mnangagwa and the neighbouring country’s President Cyril Ramaphosa late Thursday afternoon.

“#TBT President @CyrilRamaphosa welcomes South Africa’s neighbour, president of Zimbabwe, Mr @edmnangagwa to the #BRICS Africa Outreach Meeting which was attended by African Heads of State on the sidelines of @BRICS_10 #DIRCOOpenDay #KnowDIRCO,” said the caption accompanying the picture.

Ramaphosa has turned into a vital ally for Mnangagwa and recently joined Zimbabwe’s calls for western countries to remove sanctions imposed on the country’s leadership for human rights abuses.

The South African leader argues that Mnangagwa should be given a chance to implement his reform agenda.

Ramaphosa is expected in Harare for a State visit next month with talk of a possible bailout for Zimbabwe’s struggling economy a possibility although Mnangagwa has denied he has asked for financial help.

“We have asked for technical assistance and support not a bailout. We have not asked for a bailout from anyone,” Mnangagwa said last month.

South Africa’s Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mphakama Mbete confirmed Ramaphosa will be in Harare in the second week of March.

“President Ramaphosa is expected to arrive on March 11th and will do business the next day,” Mbete said.

Mnangagwa has sought to project himself as a reformer and declared Zimbabwe “open for business” in a re-engagement drive meant to return Zimbabwe to the international fold after years of frosty relations under former President Robert Mugabe.