President Mnangagwa last night left for the Tokyo International Cooperation on African Development (TICAD) Summit where he said he will meet Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Emperor Naruhito to call for increased cooperation and support.
The Head of State and Government said the engagement sought to deepen cooperation, building on existing cordial relations which have seen Japan providing humanitarian assistance and human resources development.
The President was seen off at Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport by Vice President Kembo Mohadi and Ministers Owen Ncube (State Security), Cain Mathema (Home Affairs and Culture), Oliver Chidawu (Harare Metropolitan Province), Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Dr Misheck Sibanda, senior Government officials and service chiefs.
He is accompanied by senior officials from the administration.
In an earlier address at the ground-breaking ceremony for the improvement of a 6,5-kilometre stretch along Makuti-Chirundu Road, commonly known as Wafa-Wafa owing to its steep gradient and sharp curves, President Mnangagwa said his mission was to request Japan to help fund the remaining 14,5 kilometres.
“I would like to thank the Japanese government for the support on the 6,5-kilometre stretch. That is a bad part of the Harare-Chirundu Road.
“Later this evening (yesterday), I will depart for Japan where I will meet Prime Minister Abe and the Emperor (Naruhito) the day after tomorrow (Wednesday) and ask them to help construct the road from here (Mana Pools turn-off) to Makuti covering the whole 21 kilometres as they have done before in other projects,” said President Mnangagwa.
The President expressed optimism that Japan would accede to his request and the launch of the project coincided with the opening of TICAD today.
He expressed optimism more Japanese companies will invest in the country.
“I will be leading a delegation to Japan to attend the Summit and we are optimistic that our participation in the Summit will result in more Japanese companies investing in Zimbabwe.
“We are eagerly keen to see more mutually beneficial economic projects between Japan and Zimbabwe. In this regard, I am aware of Japan’s strong competency around science, technology and innovation.
“My Government has embarked on massive construction of innovation hubs within our institutions of higher learning in our ambitious drive to leapfrog our development,” he said.
He said his attendance at TICAD was aimed at ensuring that the country gets international support for its development aspirations which seek to overrun years of sanctions-induced stagnancy which has left the country falling far behind its peers.
Japanese Ambassador to Zimbabwe Toyushiki Iwado wished President Mnangagwa well at the TICAD summit saying the country’s development trajectory fitted well into the ideals of the Summit.
The President said the country’s development has been hamstrung by crippling sanctions imposed by some Western countries and to that end, the country was pursuing engagement and re-engagement.
He said there was need to look at the agriculture sector to ensure that the country has enough food to feed its people and export.
He thanked Japan for the US$21 million facility for the improvement of the Marongora-Hell’s Gate section of the road which is expected to employ at least 250 locals.
“The success of the project is ample testimony of the cordial relations which exist between our two countries,” he said.
“We are further appreciative for the continued support of the government of Japan for our infrastructure development in general. This has seen the successful completion of key projects such as the new Chirundu Bridge across the Zambezi and the Nyakomba Irrigation Project, which I shall officially open when I come back from Japan.”
He expressed gratitude to Japan’s support towards human capital development.
“At least 250 people will be employed during implementation of the project. However, let these be locals including youths and women. We do not want people coming from other areas to elbow out those from this area.
“I equally commend the support we have always received from Japan towards our human capital development and humanitarian plight for vulnerable communities. We have many instances when we get assistance from the Japanese Government and its people in the provision of food and medicines,” the President said.