Zimbabwe aging President Robert Mugabe has invited Malawi President Joyce Banda to officially open this year’s Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) in Bulawayo later this month.
Since assuming power on April 7, 2012 after the death of Bingu wa Mutharika who was a close ally of Mugabe, Banda has actively sought closer ties with the West to help mend her country’s struggling economy.
In contrast, Mugabe accuses the West of working to force him out of power and relations remain icy since the European Union and the United States imposed sanctions, accusing his government of electoral fraud and human rights abuses.
According to a report in NewZimbabwe.com, Industry and Commerce Minister Welshman Ncube confirmed that Malawi’s first woman president would visit Zimbabwe at the invitation of Mugabe.
“This year’s Trade Fair is being officially opened by Joyce Banda, the Malawian President. She is coming at our invitation and that of the President,” Ncube is quoted saying.
Zimbabwe’s premier trade showcase runs from 23 to 27 April 2013.
The trip would be Banda’s first official visit to Zimbabwe since taking over power.
Ncube said Mugabe would be happy to receive Banda despite their different approaches to dealing with the West.