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Mnangagwa claims several SADC leaders rang him about Belarus leader’s visit

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By Darlington Gatsi


PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa has claimed that the recent visit by his Belarus counterpart and close ally, Alexander Lukashenko, attracted interest and buzz from the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) region.

Touted as the last dictator of Europe, Lukashenko paid a visit to Zimbabwe, his first to sub-Saharan Africa, to cement his growing footprint in the country, amid fanfare from ruling Zanu PF party.

In an interview with the country’s state media Lukashenko’s press secretary Natalya Eismont disclosed that Mnangagwa confided in his visitor that SADC leaders were keenly interested in the visit and the many deals concluded.

“I’ll share with you one piece of inside information that journalists love the most,” said Eismont.

“Just on the third day of the visit, the president of Zimbabwe told the Belarusian head of state that he received calls from a dozen of heads of state – leaders of the countries of Southern Africa – just at the end of the main negotiating day.

“They keep in very close in contact with each other. They all had one question: how did Zimbabwe manage to bring Lukashenko and carry out such a fundamental and eventful visit. “They all expressed willingness to establish close cooperation with the Belarusian head of state, with our country.”

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Lukashenko’s visit to Zimbabwe divided opinion with political observers raising questions on his sincerity in forging relations with Harare.

During the three-day visit which wound up with a tour of the Victoria Falls resort, Lukashenko signed many deals and memoranda of understandings with Mnangagwa and his government officials.

Eismont said the visit to Harare was an in-road into Southern Africa.

“There are also things that we are interested in in Southern Africa. I can give you an example: when speaking to journalists at a press conference, our president mentioned Mozambique. This is the country we are already entering, with the help of Zimbabwe.

“This is something that is already happening. Food security issues are also very important there. We can participate in that country’s projects. It is already a very concrete discussion. Our focus is on cooperation with the entire Southern Africa.

“I would like to emphasize a very important point once again: the future belongs to Africa. We will all see soon that this is true.”

Political analyst Lazarus Sauti said the visit by Lukashenko and subsequent signing of deals between Harare and Minsk should move away from the rhetoric without returns.

“The visit was important for the broader strategic partnership, exchanges and cooperation between the two countries,” said Sauti.

“I hope that this visit will advance Zimbabwe’s modernisation plans, especially in areas such as agriculture, energy, mining, tourism and transport.

“This stems from the fact that Belarus has the experience and knowledge necessary to help Zimbabwe achieve its goals and make a difference throughout the lives of its citizens. It’s time for our leaders to move from rhetoric to action.”