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Belarus deals help bust Zimbabwe sanctions

by Staff Reporter
03 Feb 2023 at 06:46hrs | Views
A STRING of bilateral agreements that were signed between Zimbabwe and Belarus this week and in 2019, have helped the country bust sanctions not only in the agriculture sector which is on the rebound, but also in the skills transfer market.

For the better part of the last two decades, the country's agriculture sector has been battered by illegal sanctions that were imposed by Western countries as punishment for the land reform programme that rectified colonial land inequities by restoring arable land to blacks.

However, in little over four years, the country's agriculture sector has been on a growth trajectory owing to President Mnangagwa's thrust of mechanisation and modernisation of the sector that is now rediscovering its position as the mainstay of the country's economy.

Therefore, agreements that were signed between the two countries are not just mere documents but attest to President Mnangagwa's work ethic which he aptly summed up during the three-day State visit by his Belarusian counterpart Aleksandr Lukashenko.

"President Lukashenko and I don't believe in long speeches, it is for diplomats. We believe in delivering and what we deliver can be seen, touched, counted. So today I have my brother here, we first met in 2015 and began a journey of co-operation," said the President.

Turning to the country's foreign policy, President Mnangagwa explained that Zimbabwe stands for a win-win relationship with any power, never an exploitative one.

"Zimbabwe is a friend to all and an enemy to none. Those who want to be our enemies, it's their own fault. We want to be a friend to all and an enemy to none, those who choose to be anything else it's their fault but this is our policy so we will embrace Belarus and any other countries that are willing to relate to us but not in the perception of horse and rider, no, either we are all horses or all riders.

"This is how we look at relations and I am very happy that from the first day I met my brother President, we have similar chemistry in terms of how to develop our respective countries on the basis of our domestic resources as well as co-operation with countries which have no intention of dominating us," said the President.

On his part, President Lukashenko, who left the country on Wednesday, said Belarus does not seek to impose its ways on Zimbabwe as is often the case with other countries but regarded Zimbabwe as an equal.

"Sanctions on Belarus and Zimbabwe are not just a curse but also a blessing, because if not for the sanctions, maybe Zimbabwe would continue trading with the West, selling its natural resources.

"Some people say Africa is awakening but I don't agree with that because Africa has already woken up. I believe that there is no future without Africa, the reason for that is because it has the necessary human and natural resources. The world cannot develop without Africa and we come to Africa as friends, we come here to our brothers and whoever we meet in Africa we build a very good and friendly relationship with them.

"Zimbabwe and Belarus are now working together and considering the possibility to attract other countries of the region into our bilateral co-operation including Mozambique because Mozambique is an agricultural country with very vast ocean land so we agreed to invite the President of Mozambique (President Filipe Nyusi) to participate in our negotiations since the President of Zimbabwe told me that the President of Mozambique is a very good friend of his.

"I hope that we will be able to establish such trilateral co-operation and I would like to emphasise that our coming to Africa, we bring peace, science, and technology. We are not using colonial style approach; we are not here to do that. We are bringing peace, we are here to train the specialists, to help you achieve progress for your economies.

"We plan to expand our ties with Africa because the world cannot develop without Africa and the future belongs to Africa," said President Lukashenko.

Because of such relations, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Mr Nick Mangwana, said Zimbabwe has turned a corner and is charting a new prosperous path.

"The idea of sanctions was to decimate Zimbabwe's agriculture, the idea was to make sure that we would not be able to mechanise and modernise our agriculture sector. The funding was not coming, international lenders were not doing business with Zimbabwe and now Belarus is providing that facility."

That co-operation has resulted in Zimbabwe recording the highest wheat harvest in 56 years, yields which are enough to last the country a whole year and more.

Thus even though relations between Zimbabwe and Belarus span just four years, benefits have been huge for the former as food security, once a pipedream, crystallises into reality.

This week President Mnangagwa and President Lukashenko presided over the launch of the Second Phase of the Farm Mechanisation Programme where Zimbabwe took delivery of an additional 1 300 tractors, 14 combine harvesters and disc harrows.

The first phase saw 474 tractors, 60 combine harvesters, 210 planters, and 5 lowbed trucks being delivered to the country and distributed to farmers through the Land Bank and CBZ.

More are coming and the agricultural sector is being modernised and mechanised in sync with the National Development Strategy 1, which pivots the private sector at the apex of the country's development towards Vision 2030, to become an upper middle-class economy.

Apart from being a big player in the agriculture sector, Belarus is a strategic partner for Zimbabwe as it offers a bridge into Eurasia and also provides a ready market for local products.

The tourism sector, which is also another vital pillar of the economy, stands to benefit from an influx of tourists, not only from traditional markets, but also from the new and emerging market found in central and eastern Europe.

Consequently, the opening of embassies in Harare and Minsk, combined with the establishment of a Joint Permanent Commission on Co-operation, will bring huge rewards for Zimbabwe, as they would be an annual interface between the two countries for enhanced trade.

Further doors have been opened through agreements in the area of education, technology, and construction, positioning Zimbabwe in the region for skills transfer on an equal basis, not on the exploitative horse-rider concept that some countries often want to use.

Source - The Herald
More on: #Land_Bank, #CBZ, #Belarus