Source: Zimbabwe, Belarus to ink more deals | The Herald (Local News)
Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter
ZIMBABWE and Belarus are expected to cement their growing bilateral ties and pursue more areas of co-operation when Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko arrives in Harare today for an historic three-day State visit seen as a sequel to the US$350 million mega deals signed between the two countries three years ago.
President Mnangagwa will hold crucial talks with President Lukashenko aimed at deepening bilateral relations between the two countries.
Some of the areas of co-operation that will be strengthened include energy, manufacturing, transport, logistics and development of agricultural projects.
In 2019, the two countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding establishing a Joint Permanent Commission on Co-operation.
There was also an MoU on the co-operation, organisation and support of the joint Belarusian and Zimbabwean construction in which former Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Dr Sibusiso Moyo, who is now late, represented Zimbabwe while Chief of Presidential Affairs General Colonel Victor Sheiman represented Belarus.
Belarus has a population of only about 9,4 million but has a Gross Domestic Product of US$79,7 billion with an economy anchored mainly on manufacturing and agriculture and is the 13th largest and the 20th most populous country in Europe.
It will be the first such visit to a sub-Saharan country by President Lukashenko and a wide range of issues will be up for discussion with his counterpart President Mnangagwa as Zimbabwe’s engagement and re-engagement efforts under the Second Republic continue to bear fruit.
Some agreements in various fields of co-operation are also expected to be signed that will give impetus to the close and long standing relationship that exists between Zimbabwe and Belarus and also help drive Harare’s modernisation and industrialisation agenda particularly in mining, manufacturing, agriculture, energy and infrastructure development.
In 2019, President Mnangagwa visited Belarus where, together with President Lukashenko, they committed to strengthen co-operation in various sectors that include agriculture, mining, infrastructural development and science and innovation.
There have been reciprocal visits by officials from the two countries where co-operation in several facets of the economy has been enhanced further giving impetus to the Second Republic led by President Mnangagwa’s policy thrust of engagement and re-engagement as the country moves towards attainment of an upper middle class income economy anchored on the National Development Strategy 1.
Foreign Affairs and International Trade spokesperson, Mr Levit Mugejo, said the visit was meant to strengthen the existing excellent relations between Zimbabwe and Belarus.
He said the two countries have strong co-operation in political, economic, mining, agriculture and Disaster Risk Management and apart from several agreements that will be signed, the two leaders are also expected to launch the Second Phase of the Zimbabwe-Belarus Agricultural Mechanisation Programme.
In an interview with our sister newspaper, The Sunday Mail, Belarusian Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Alexander Sidoruk said President Lukashenko’s inaugural State visit would significantly boost Harare and Minsk’s growing bilateral relations.
He described the visit as an important component of the comprehensive strategic partnership.
Ambassador Sidoruk said the complementary nature of the countries’ economies created a solid foundation for successful interaction and co-operation.
“The tasks that your President set for the Government are very ambitious and aimed at accelerated industrialisation of the country, further agricultural development and training of the highly qualified specialists,” he said.
“Belarus possesses the necessary experience and knowledge to support the Government of Zimbabwe in achieving these goals, to assist in the modernisation and development of the manufacturing and agricultural sectors of Zimbabwe by providing advisory and technical service, participation in the infrastructural projects, experience exchange and professional technical training in Belarusian educational centres.”
Some of the high ranking officials from Belarus visit who visited Zimbabwe include Belarusian Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Piotr Parkhomchik, who came to Harare last October where he held bilateral meetings with various ministries as the two countries cemented their long standing cordial relations.
Zimbabwe has received multi-sectoral support from Belarus since the countries established diplomatic relations 30 years ago.
Several bilateral co-operation agreements were signed in Harare providing a legal framework for multi-sectoral cooperation.
Zimbabwe enjoys multi-sectoral benefits on account of this relationship, which include the two financing facilities of US$50 million and US$51 million for the modernisation of Zimbabwe’s agricultural Sector.
In 2020, President Mnangagwa officially launched the Belarus Farm Mechanisation Facility at the Institute of Agricultural Engineering in Hatcliffe, Harare.
There was also a launch in July 2021, of the Forestry and Fire Fighting Equipment Facility procured through Aftrade DMCC following financing by the Belarus Government, which was another significant development in the two countries’ relationship.
Other investments and support Zimbabwe has received from Belarus include the investment by the Bison Agro Machinery Company in Willowvale, with the concomitant knowledge and skills transfer, the equipment at Hwange Colliery and at the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company in Chiadzwa provided by a Belarusian firm, which is a major global manufacturer of mining dump trucks and transport equipment for mining and construction and the supply of buses.
Zimbabwe has also hosted a delegation from Belarus who met officials from the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development to discuss co-operation and continued support in the supply of farm mechanisation equipment to Zimbabwe.
Belarus has committed to supply fertilisers, increase national strategic grain reserves and supply mechanised equipment.