EDITORIAL COMMENT: Russia support for new dispensation crucial for investor confidence

President meets Lavrov 1

THE new political dispensation under President Emmerson Mnangagwa continues to receive ringing endorsement from the community of nations with Russia this week adding its voice to those who have given Harare the thumbs up since the successful execution of Operation Restore Legacy in November last year. Russian President Vladimir Putin dispatched his Foreign Minister Mr Sergey Lavrov to Harare with a special message in which he praised Cde Mnangagwa for bringing political stability to the country and steering Zimbabwe towards economic growth.

“As for the messages we conveyed from President Putin to the President of Zimbabwe, these messages are in support to the efforts of the President of Zimbabwe in stabilising the political situation in the country and consolidating society and developing comprehensive and multi-faceted co-operation with countries that are willing to help Zimbabwe in addressing its economy,” Mr Lavrov said when he met President Mnangagwa at his Munhumutapa Offices on Thursday.

Already, Russia has invested heavily in Zimbabwe where it is involved in a joint venture project exploring the Darwendale platinum deposit, one of the largest in the world.

On Thursday, the two countries signed three memoranda of understanding one of which aims to facilitate the setting up of a Russian Industrial Zone in Zimbabwe. The other two MoUs focus on mutual co-operation in industrial development and modernisation of Zimbabwe’s agriculture. The MoUs on the establishment of the industrial zone and mutual cooperation in industrial development were signed by Industry and Commerce Minister Dr Mike Bimha and Russia’s Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry Mr Georgy Kalamanov. The MoU to modernise agriculture was signed by Agriculture, Lands and Rural Resettlement Minister Retired Chief Air Marshal Perrance Shiri and Mr Kalamanov.

Addressing a Press conference soon after meeting President Mnangagwa and signing of the MoUs, Mr Lavrov said implementation of the MoUs was urgent. “Professionals will go through these MoUs and will report to the leadership of the countries as well as to the ministries and I do not think this is going to take too much time,” Mr Lavrov said through an interpreter.

He said their discussions with the President focused on ways to improve economic relations between the two countries. “Today during the meeting with the President, with the Vice President (Retired General Constantino Chiwenga), with the ministers from the economic bloc of the Government, we discussed issues meant to develop trade and economic ties between our countries,” said Mr Lavrov.

“We placed particular emphasis on the implementation of the joint project of exploring the Darwendale platinum deposit, one of the largest in the world which is currently operated by a joint venture between Zimbabwe and Russia.”

He also said Russia wanted to invest in the country’s diamond sector and told President Mnangagwa of Russian companies’ interest to invest in Zimbabwe.

“We also talked about the prospects of military and technical co-operation and we already have a working group in this particular subject under the aegis of the IDC.

“We are also paying attention to the international agenda with regard to which we co-ordinate our positions and priorities in particular within the UN,” Mr Lavrov said.

Russia has been Zimbabwe’s all-weather friend going back to the days of the liberation struggle where it assisted the armed wings of PF Zapu and Zanla to execute the war against the Rhodesian army. That relationship continued after independence where Moscow, along with China, has been a pillar of support particularly at the UN where it used its veto powers on the Security Council to block attempts by the West to impose sanctions on Zimbabwe.

The relationship between Zimbabwe and Russia has always been anchored on mutual respect for the internal affairs and territorial integrity of each other’s nations. The visit by Mr Lavrov will therefore buttress that cohesion and ensure that going forward, the two countries escalate their co-operation at all levels for the benefit of their peoples.

We also welcome Russia’s condemnation of illegal sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by the West as they distort free market principles. Speaking on the punitive measures, Mr Lavrov said: “I do not grasp why we should impose anything on any of our partners, Zimbabwe included. We work with any country that is ready to that on the basis of mutual rights and mutual benefits. We are certainly against any unilateral steps such as sanctions or trying to impose measures forcing this or that country to do something. Such measures as those imposed against Zimbabwe we believe these politicised steps distort the market and the countries that invoke these measures interfere illegally within the play of free market forces”.

Zimbabwe is now poised for greater things following the huge vote of confidence shown in the current administration by the rest of the world. What is crucial is that the reforms being implemented by the Government are being embraced by the European Union, the United States, Russia and China. This will certainly boost investor confidence.