Look after Bob, outgoing South African President Jacob Zuma has told the new Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa, at his official home in Pretoria.

President Jacob Zuma made a special mention of ousted President Robert Mugabe during a courtesy visit by President Mnangagwa. He said it was good that the old man was being looked after by the incoming president. He said that those behind the liberation struggles in Africa should be looked after. Africa recognised Mugabe’s role, said Zuma, as leader of the struggle.

Welcoming Mnangagwa, Zuma said: “I was humbled (with) the guarantee that he (Mnangagwa) has given the founder .. the president of the country, President Mugabe. (He) will be looked after. There will be no problem at all. He is our father… he grew us in the struggle (sic). I appreciated (that)… I have to thank him for that.”

Zuma, who had a thunderous expression in the wake of the victory of his Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa as the new leader of the ruling African National Congress, said: “We should in Africa … look after our elders who have played a role in our country. I am very thankful.”

Ramaphosa, who was not mentioned by either men at the press conference after the two heads of state met on Thursday, took over as ANC leader from Zuma on Monday. He defeated President Zuma’s ex-wife, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, by a narrow margin.

Zuma also praised the role played by the Zimbabwe military in handling the situation – the silent coup – in November. "We are very grateful for that… in a number of countries, if the army decided to stand up… (they) leave a trail of destruction. In Zimbabwe they were able to be under control and the political situation was controlled.”

Mnangagwa, mentioning that he had spent 16 days recently in exile in South Africa after he was dismissed by Mugabe as his vice-president, said he regarded President Zuma “as (an) elder brother”. They had both been security chiefs in their respective liberation movements in the 1970s. “With that background I felt that I must come to my brother and receive guidance …”

He noted that Zimbabwe was the biggest trading partner of South Africa on the African continent. Zuma was the current chair of the Southern African Development Community. reported that trade between the two countries had seen exponential growth over the years – with South African exports to Zimbabwe worth R29.3 billion in 2016.

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