Kudakwashe Mugari Deputy News Editor
Zimbabwe is set to line up new agreements with Russia at the inaugural Russia-Africa Economic Summit scheduled for Sochi, Russia.
The summit, which will be co-chaired by Russian President Vladimir Putin and African Union (AU) chairman President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt, begins tomorrow.
President Mnangagwa, who left Harare last night, will join about 46 other African Heads of State and Government at the summit which is expected to unlock economic benefits for Zimbabwe, in particular and Africa in general. Zimbabwe will build on its friendly ties with the Eastern giant, whose fruits include major platinum and diamond mining deals.
To kick-start the summit will be the Russia-Africa Economic Forum tomorrow which will be attended by African Heads of State and representatives of Russian, African, international business, government agencies and African integration associations.
The discussions are framed on three thematic pillars, “Forging Economic Ties”, “Creating Joint Projects”, and “Collaborating in the Humanitarian and Social Sector”.
Due to friendly relations between the Russian Federation and African governments on both bilateral and multilateral levels, the summit will help forge closer collaboration on regional and international issues of common interest, raise strategic dialogue between Russia and African countries to a qualitatively higher level, and contribute to peace, security and sustainable development on the African continent.
Acting spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Mr Joel Muzuwa yesterday said Zimbabwe will benefit more on the trade and economic front from the summit. “The forum will be a strategically important step towards creating favourable conditions for the development of trade and economic relations between Russia and Africa as well diversify the forms and areas of Russian-African cooperation,” said Mr Muzuwa.
“The summit is anchored on the need to share and support the goals of the African Union member states as enshrined in the Agenda 2063 adopted in January 2015 at the 24th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the union.
“It is also anchored on goals as contained in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted by the UN General Assembly under resolution 70/1 of 25 September 2015.”
Deliberations during the summit will be on key issues such as the establishment of a Russia-Africa Partnership Forum with a view to coordinating the development of the Russian-African relations, designate the Russia-Africa Summit as its supreme body to be convened once every three years, holding of annual political consultations between Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation and African countries
acting as the current, former and future chairs of the African Union in the period between Summits.
On political cooperation, the summit is expected to develop an equitable dialogue on the basis of a polycentric world order which opposes the revision of some concepts such as international law and the UN Charter, a rule-based world order, the practice of adopting unilateral measures and imposing approaches aimed at protecting parochial interests of certain states.
Director International Communication Services in the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Dr Ivanhoe Gurira said because of the cordial relations enjoyed by Zimbabwe and Russia, the summit will be of economic value.
“Zimbabwe has warm relations with Russia, it is Russia and China that supported African countries particularly Zimbabwe during the liberation struggle.
“This summit follows the path of other great Asian countries’ summits towards Africa such as China-Africa and TICAD where you have big Asian countries beginning to consider investing in Africa in all spheres of economy.
“As a country we are optimistic of benefiting more from this summit,” said Dr Gurira.
The participation of Zimbabwe at this inaugural summit is in line with the country’s re-engagement policy pillar of cooperation in various technical fields, as well as promoting economic development.
President Mnangagwa is accompanied by Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube, Minees Minister Winston Chitando and other senior government officials as well as members from the private sector.
He was seen off at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport by Vice President Kembo Mohadi, who is the Acting President; Cabinet ministers including Security Minister Owen Ncube, Defence Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, Harare Province Minister Oliver Chidawu, and Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Secretary Nick Mangwana, Service Chiefs and other Government officials.