PRESIDENT Mnangagwa has attributed the country’s bumper wheat harvest last season to the modernisation and mechanisation of the country’s agriculture sector thanks to machinery and equipment from Belarus.
He said despite the illegal Western economic sanctions, the country had achieved food security, shaming detractors who wanted Zimbabwe on its knees.
The President said Zimbabwe stood ready to welcome more investment from Belarus consistent with the Second Republic’s “Zimbabwe is Open for Business” mantra that has brought investors from across the world.
President Mnangagwa said this on Tuesday night while delivering a speech during a banquet he hosted for his Belarusian counterpart President Aleksandr Lukashenko, at State House in Harare.
“My Government and the people of Zimbabwe attest to the increased production and output on account of the technology and expertise that our Belarusian partners have shared with us. This is more pronounced in the agriculture sector where our recent bumper wheat harvest benefited from increased tillage and harvesting capacity enabled by mechanisation from Belarus,” said President Mnangagwa.
“I am a wheat farmer, a big one for that matter. My Minister of Agriculture can attest to that. I put over 4 000 tonnes of wheat alone. That was grown by mechanisation, combine harvesters from Belarus.
“My dear brother ‘Zimbabwe is Open for Business.’ We stand ready to welcome more Belarusian companies to take advantage of the abundant investment opportunities in our country.
“Taking a leaf from Belarusian companies who have been exhibiting at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair, I challenge our private sector across the various sectors of the economy to enhance co-operation, partnerships, and joint ventures with the private sector in Belarus for mutual benefit.”
He said the establishment of diplomatic ties had spawned closer co-operation between the two countries.
“I am confident that these diplomatic missions will facilitate closer people-to-people co-operation and broaden the scope of our bilateral, economic, scientific as well as technical co-operation and partnerships.
“Allow me to convey Zimbabwe’s sincere gratitude to the Government of Belarus for the investment and support related to agriculture, mining and disaster preparedness. The facilities and interventions by Belarus have enabled our country to boost capacity in these and other fields despite sanctions.”
President Mnangagwa noted that their bilateral talks with President Lukashenko allowed them to review the full spectrum of the two countries’ relations at bilateral and international levels.
“It is commendable that we resolved to move our countries forward on a solid legal framework through the signing of the Agreement for the Establishment of a Joint Permanent Commission of Co-operation. The signing of other Agreements and Memorandum of Understanding will undoubtedly go a long way towards strengthening our ties across the socio-political and economic spectrum,” he said.
“At the international level, the increased challenges facing the world call for stronger solidarity and a renewed commitment to strengthening multilateralism, for achieving and maintaining peace, security, equality, sustainable economic development and the protection of our environment. Zimbabwe remains committed to playing its part.”
In response, President Lukashenko said Belarus was ready to train specialists in agriculture and other related areas to help Harare achieve its national goals.
He said the two countries ought to deepen their relations and help to catch up with the progressive world in terms of innovation and technology consistent with the Second Republic’s modernisation and industrialisation agenda.
“There are huge opportunities for Zimbabwe in Belarus. Today we have embarked on a second phase of our co-operation, that of innovation and technology. Belarus is prepared to train Zimbabwean specialists in a way that, for the next decade, they will remember the relationship between Zimbabwe and Belarus,” said President Lukashenko.
He extended an invitation to Zimbabwe officials for them to have an appreciation of what they were doing in Belarus, adding that his country had huge opportunities despite having a small population of around 10 million people.
“Our relationship started many years ago, but it did not develop as quickly as it should because we are far away. We still managed to develop the relationship. It should continue to develop and know that science today is fast and it waits for no one, we need to catch up with time.
“We need to survive and withstand the pressure from the big states and sanctions. Of course sanctions have also created opportunities, though they have been a huge burden.”
President Lukashenko said while Western countries like the United States were big countries even in terms of technology, they were not capable of resolving all global challenges.
President Lukashenko said the continued growth of other countries in the East showed that a multipolar system was inevitable.
He said Belarus played a huge economic role during the days of the Soviet Union.
“Some of you may ask how a small country with a small population of 10 million can help you, but we would like to tell you that during the Soviet Union, raw materials would come to us, and we managed to retain this technology. Right now we produce so much and 50 percent of what we produce is exported. We were one of the most advanced economies during the Soviet Union,” President Lukashenko said.