Fidelis Munyoro Chief Reporter
Zimbabwe and Belarus yesterday signed deals worth US$350 million as they stepped up efforts to enhance economic cooperation.
President Mnangagwa witnessed the signing ceremony in Harare.
Two out of six agreements were signed last night, with the remainder still to be concluded.
The outstanding agreements involve the construction of a power plant, transport, logistics and development of agricultural projects.
First to be signed was a Memorandum of Understanding that establishes the Joint Permanent Commission on Cooperation (JPCC), which was followed by the MoU on the cooperation, organisation and support of the joint Belarusian and Zimbabwean construction
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Dr Sibusiso Busi Moyo represented Zimbabwe while Chief of Presidential Affairs General Colonel Victor Sheiman represented Belarus.
Speaking after the signing ceremony, President Mnangagwa extolled the Belarus government’s spirit of commitment to the bilateral relations between the two countries.
“I am happy that the relations between Zimbabwe and Belarus have now been concretised by these various agreements which we have concluded after the visit by General Victor Sheiman to Zimbabwe,” he said.
The President said as a result of a short period of preparation, only two agreements had been completed and signed.
He said the rest of agreements on the part of the Belarus delegation have been completed, but Zimbabwe side still wants to go through some legal processes such as the public agreements committee and going through Cabinet.
“Once that is achieved I think the Minister of Finance (Professor Mthuli Ncube) and other team from agriculture will travel to Belarus and will have those agreements signed,” he said.
“I am happy that these agreements are almost across the spectrum of our economic fields.”
President Mnangagwa was also satisfied with the progress so far made on the agriculture, energy, logistics and construction deals saying all the necessary processes will be concluded between the two governments.
“This is indicative of the growing co-operation between the two countries,” said President Mnangagwa.
Minister Moyo said Belarus will invest immediately an amount of US$350 million for various projects in the country.
He said the agricultural agreement between Belarus and Zimbabwe on the development of an agricultural project will enable the country to grow maize, wheat and soya beans for internal consumption.
“As you are aware the joint permanent commissions are meant to focus on economic issues and bilateral issues in a more detailed way, some of which could be a Bi-National Commission so that we can maximise benefits resulting from our relations with Belarus,” he said.
“That is typical transactional diplomacy.”
Minister Moyo said the second agreement has to do with a joint co-operation in the formation framework of forming a joint venture company between Zimbabwe and Belarus.
“This is a construction company whose mandate and purpose is primarily to be given various projects which they can finance and introduce technology in building and also build lower and middle income houses which are required within the various cities in Zimbabwe,” he said.
“This has been concretised and Belarus are going to bring all their equipment which is required plus the technology which is appropriate for quick development for national housing or any other projects.”
Gen Col Sheiman assured President Mnangagwa that Belarus would do as much as possible to make sure that all the deals are a success.
He also thanked President Mnangagwa for the productive and efficient work by local ministers to make the two agreements ready for signing.
“These two days we spent here were very effective and good for working here in Zimbabwe. Upon my arrival in Belarus I will immediately brief my President about all the work fulfilled here and all our bilateral co-operation with Zimbabwe. All our structures and ministers who were involved in all these agreements, were very effective.”
He also pledged to President Mnangagwa that on their side, they were ready to work hard to make the bilateral relations successful.