President Cyril Ramaphosa concluded a highly anticipated visit to Zimbabwe on Tuesday, raising hopes that his country might save its economically troubled neighbor.
Ramaphosa praised the new government of Emmerson Mnangagwa for her efforts to revive the economy and promised to explore a range of options for financial support.
Otherwise, however, he made no concrete offer of assistance and expressed an "obligation to work with Zimbabwe to address the socio-economic challenges".
"South Africa is ready to help Zimbabwe with our money in our search for economic renewal," he said during talks at a Harare hotel.
Last year, Zimbabwe called for US $ 1.2 billion in emergency loans from South Africa, but Pretoria said the money was not available.
In a joint statement made after the 24-hour visit, the two governments said they were looking for ways to financially support Zimbabwe.
One of these would be a South African private-sector loan facility for private companies in Zimbabwe.
The loans are "guaranteed by the South African government with a corresponding back guarantee from the government of Zimbabwe," the statement said.
An almost similar deal was made last month with the diamond-rich Botswana, which holds a $ 100 million loan from private banks in both countries, but is available to private companies in Botswana doing business in Zimbabwe.
"We do not give them a single loan," President Mokgweetsi Masisi said after a visit to Harare in Gaborone and rejected the media reports that the loan was provided by the state.
Mnangagwa took office after longtime ruler Robert Mugabe was forced to resign in 2017, but has difficulty solving the economic crisis in Zimbabwe.
In January of this year, the crowd took to the streets to protest after Mnangagwa more than doubled fuel prices.
The military and the police suppressed the demonstrations. At least 17 people were killed and hundreds injured.
South Africa has been the main burden of economic and political problems in Zimbabwe. Millions of Zimbabweans have fled to South Africa after decades of economic turmoil.
"The one thing concerns the other, economic prosperity in one country has a stimulus effect on the other, and economic regression has an impact on the other," Mnangagwa said.
Ramaphosa has made calls for African leaders to lift years of Western-imposed sanctions for abuse of rights under Mugabe's regime.
"We have called for the immediate lifting of these sanctions because they impede the growth of the Zimbabwean economy and have a negative impact on the people of Zimbabwe," Ramaphosa reiterated Tuesday.