JOHANNESBURG – South Africa turned down a request from Zimbabwe for a $1.2 billion loan in December, a spokesman for the finance ministry said on Monday.
“South Africa doesn’t have that kind of money,” National Treasury spokesman Jabulani Sikhakhane said.
Desperate Zimbabwe government officials met the South African government a day after Christmas and asked for help with a bailout.
The delegation, led by Zimbabwe’s finance minister, Mthuli Ncube, is understood to have sought $1.2bn in aid.
The December meeting had been attended by South African Reserve Bank governor Lesetja Kganyago and deputy governor Daniel Mminele, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor John Mangudya and permanent secretary in the Zimbabwe Ministry of Finance & Economic Development, George Guvamatanga.
Zimbabwe was hit by anti-government protests last week after a hike in fuel prices stoked anger over an economic crisis.
Police say three people died during demonstrations that turned violent in the capital Harare and second city Bulawayo. But human rights groups say evidence suggests at least a dozen were killed.
Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa said on Sunday that he would return home from a European tour and skip the World Economic Forum in Davos to address the crisis.
Mnangagwa, who over the last eight days visited Russia, Belarus, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan in the hope of attracting investment, is desperate for a bailout to shore up the country’s collapsed economy, but his efforts have so far drawn blanks amid growing tensions with the workers’ movement.-Zimlive