Hopeful that neighboring Zimbabwe can pull off a peaceful election July 31, South Africa is keen to avoid a repeat of hundreds of thousands of refugees flooding its borders after violence in the last Zimbabwe election of 2008, according to a ChicagoTribune report.
South Africa landed up with an expensive humanitarian crisis, but has since helped broker a unity government in Zimbabwe. The Zimbabwe economy is recovering, creating opportunities for South African businesses, the report said.
Zimbabwe spends the equivalent of 20 percent of its gross domestic product on imports from South Africa. Major South African banks, retailers and mining firms do business in Zimbabwe and are ready to expand if the economy, estimated by the International Monetary Fund to be worth $9.8 billion in 2012, continues to grow.
South African Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe said in the ChicagoTribune report there was no sign the violence and intimidation surrounding the 2008 election will be repeated.
“If anything causes an implosion in Zimbabwe, we would with immediate effect have to deal with the consequences,” he said.
Motlanthe said President Jacob Zuma speaks often with Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, who has made disparaging remarks about South African intervention.
“Whatever the outcome of the elections, it should be a free expression of the will of Zimbabwe,” Motlanthe said. “We have a vested interest as a country in ensuring that there is peace and stability in Zimbabwe. We can only benefit from that.”