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Mugabe seeks investors in South Africa

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has begun a rare state visit to South Africa to find investors for his nation's precarious economy. The two countries are due to sign a deal to increase trade.

Mugabe was due to hold talks in Johannesburg on Wednesday with host President Jacob Zuma (pictured right) whose government said the economies of South Africa and Zimbabwe were "inextricably linked."

A bilateral business forum is due on Thursday to review a two-way trade, heavily weighted about 12-to-one in South Africa's favor. Mugabe is currently

chairman of the African Union.

For more a decade, Zimbabwe's economy has been in a tailspin, with high unemployment, low liquidity and low growth in the wake of land reforms initiated 14 years ago.

Inflation peaked officially in 2008 at 231 million before Mugabe's government stopped counting.

Last year, Zimbabwean finance ministry officials visited South Africa in a bid to convince potential investors that their country was finally on the mend.

Zimbabweans look for work

The officials said at the time it was in South Africa's interest to help boost its neighbor to dissuade economic refugees who often cross from Zimbabwe in search of work and earnings.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said in March that Zimbabwe faced a "difficult" economic outlook with growth set to weaken again this year.

Mugabe, 91,

arrived overnight Tuesday at South Africa's Waterkloof air force base outside Pretoria, accompanied by his wife,

Grace (pictured left, behind Mugabe),

who is tipped as one of his possible successors.

It is President Mugabe's first official state visit to South Africa in 21 years, although he has visited on other occasions, such as the state funeral for the late South African president Nelson Mandela in 2013.

ipj/jil (AFP, AP)

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