HARARE – President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his Belarusian counterpart Aleksandr Lukashenko discussed defence and security issues besides the business contracts that were reportedly signed by officials from the two countries.
Lukashenko visited the United Arab Emirates, had a state visit to Zimbabwe, and then returned to the UAE.
Press secretary of the Belarusian head of state Natalya Eismont shared previously unknown details of the meetings and negotiations between Lukashenko and Mnangagwa. Said Eismont, as quoted by Belta:
With regard to Zimbabwe, I mean the things that have not been made public: these were defense and security issues. The journalists, who worked with us, were present at the reception, too. This was a very special event.
Different countries have their own traditions. In general, a reception is an informal communication, a cultural part of the visit. It is a special, more relaxed moment. Here it was quite different.
There is a tradition in Zimbabwe for heads of state to give speeches at the reception and to dwell on the results.
Our president made a very serious speech, which was heard, including by journalists. He touched upon these issues there. I mean defense and security issues. These issues were discussed in detail.
Lukashenko landed in Zimbabwe’s capital city, Harare, for a two-day visit and was greeted by Mnangagwa and thousands of ruling party supporters.
The two countries are close allies of Russia. Belarus has backed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a former Soviet republic, while Zimbabwe has claimed neutrality and refused to condemn Moscow.
“The visit is historic, as it is the first such undertaking to a sub-Saharan African nation, by President Lukashenko,” the ministry said, according to Agence France-Presse.
Lukashenko has been in power since 1994. He was reelected in 2020 in a highly contested vote that was widely denounced as a sham, resulting in mass protests. Lukashenko’s government cracked down violently on demonstrators, arresting more than 35,000 people and brutally beating thousands, according to The Associated Press.
Mnangagwa’s reign has been shorter, coming into power in 2017 after the leader of the previous 37 years, Robert Mugabe, was forced to resign because of numerous human rights violations. Mnangagwa has faced similar controversies.
Both leaders have been accused by rivals and the West of being corrupt and limiting free speech by stifling dissent, accusations that Lukashenko and Mnangagwa have denied.