Zimbabwe also counts South Africa as it biggest trade partner. Photo: AP

HARARE – The UK is seeking closer ties with South Africa and is working closely with Cyril Ramaphosa’s government on the imploding economic and political situation in Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of Congo, pivoting on SA’s influence as an economic powerhouse in the region.

This follows a two-day visit to South Africa by the UK’s Africa Minister, Harriett Baldwin earlier this month, building up on another visit by British Prime Minister, Theresa May in 2018. Last week’s trip to SA by Baldwin was proceeded by a further visit to Mozambique.

The two African trips come at a time Zimbabwe has been pressing for a bail-out loan from its southern neighbours. However, South Africa’s treasury department has said it is not in a position to advance any funding to Zimbabwe despite pressure from some politicians in the country such as EFF leader, Julius Malema.

The UK Africa Minister has now revealed that the UK is working with Ramaphosa’s government on solutions for Zimbabwe.

“We are co-operating closely on African issues, particularly on the current situation in Zimbabwe and the recent elections in DRC, as well as promoting the UN agenda on Women, Peace and Security,” Baldwin said Tuesday via a statement released on the UK government website.

She acknowledged South Africa’s positioning in Africa as “crucial internationally” because “South Africa has one of the largest economies in sub-Saharan Africa and plays an important role in regional institutions” such as the African Union.

South Africa is also the only African member of the G20 and BRICS grouping which includes Brazil, Russia, India and China.

Baldwin held talks during her visit to SA, which started on January 31 and lasted two days, with business sector leaders, government officials and civic society among other stakeholders. The discussions centred on “UK-South Africa bilateral relationship, regional African issues, as well as trade and investment”.

South Africa is among the largest trading partners for the UK in Sub Saharan Africa. Zimbabwe also counts South Africa as it biggest trade partner and is a former colony of Britain. Mnangagwa’s administration is also pursuing re-admission into the Commonwealth grouping as part of wider global re-engagement efforts to end the country’s isolation which has impacted on foreign investment inflows.

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