Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko pays Zim first visit, more agreements in pipeline

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By Staff Reporter

BELARUS President, Alexander Lukashenko, will jet into Zimbabwe Monday to meet his counterpart Emmerson Mnangagwa for talks aimed at strengthening the two countries’ relationship.

In a statement Friday, Foreign Affairs ministry spokesperson Livit Mugejo said the visit will strengthen Belarus-Zimbabwe cooperation in various political and economic spheres.

“The President of the Republic of Belarus, His Excellency Alexander Lukashenko, will pay a State Visit to Zimbabwe from 30 January-1 February 2023.

“During the state visit, H.E President Lukashenko is scheduled to meet H.E President Dr. E.D Mnangagwa.

“The visit is historic, as it is the first such undertaking to a Sub-Saharan African nation, by President Lukashenko.

“The State visit is meant to strengthen the existing excellent relations between Zimbabwe and the Republic of Belarus. The two countries have strong cooperation in political, economic, mining, agriculture and disaster risk management.

“Several agreements are under consideration and are expected to be signed during the visit. President Lukashenko and President Mnangagwa are also expected to launch the Second Phase of the Zimbabwe- Belarus Agricultural Mechanisation Programme,” read the statement.

Zimbabwe’s relations with Belarus took off in 2015, when Mnangagwa, then the late former President Robert Mugabe’s deputy, met with the Eastern European country’s leader Lukashenko.

In 2019, Mnangagwa paid Belarus another visit where the two countries signed cooperation agreements after Lukashenko said his administration saw great opportunities in Belarus-Zimbabwe cooperation and promised to visit Harare.

Since then there have been business deals between the two countries.

However, Zimbabwe’s deals with Belarus have been the subject of local controversy after it emerged that the government last year procured fire-fighting vehicles for local authorities despite the fact that the councils never asked for them.

The transaction was strongly rejected by Members of Parliament from both the ruling and opposition parties.

Again there have been reports that Mnangagwa’s government handpicked Belarusian companies believed to be his allies to buy diamonds in Zimbabwe.

There has also been a lot of controversy over  Zimbabwe Passenger Company (Zupco) buses ‘purchased’ by government from Belarus.