Mnangagwa seeks Russian FDI as SA and global funders turn away

Emmerson Mnangagwa and Vladimir Putin

HARARE – Zimbabwe is seeking foreign direct investments from Russia as it is unable to access financial input from International Finance Institutions and President Emerson Mnangagwa has had to step in to resolve a shareholding dispute in a platinum project jointly owned by Russia and local shareholders.

Mnangagwa visited Russia on 15 January before proceeding to Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Belarus as investment inflows from traditional investment powerhouses in the West wilt. South African officials also say they are not in a position to advance Zimbabwe a financial package to help it end years of economic decline, worsened by poor economic policies that have driven investors away.

The IMF and other global funders have been demanding economic reforms from Zimbabwe while western nations are also pressing for the upholding of the rule of law before unlocking their financial vaults for Zimbabwe.

This has left Zimbabwe in a financial crunch, with cash drying up in the mineral-rich southern African country. Mnangagwa has now switched his begging bowl for investments to Russia as well as China and the other three Eurasian nations.

“Zimbabwe was looking at engaging the business community. In an environment where we are not able to get input from IFI, it means we must target FDI which is why it was critical to try and engage the business chambers of Russia,” Mnangagwa’s spokesperson, George Charamba, said on Wednesday.

South Africa has turned down a request for a bail-out financial package by its northern neighbour which is desperate to fix and revive its economy. Zimbabwe frequently struggles to pay for key imports such as medicines and fuel.

“Russia has not had much contact with Southern Africa. We are trying to get Russia into Southern Africa and having Zimbabwe as the center of its own operation by way of capital and by way of technology,” Charamba said.

The ties between Zimbabwe and Russia have been strengthening steadily over the past few years, with experts saying the European country is keen to extend its power and influence into the rest of Africa. Russian investors have invested in a platinum mine in Zimbabwe’s Darwendale but this project had stalled owing to shareholding disagreements.

“There is a Russian project which is close to Darwendale. It has been mothballed for too long because of a shareholding misunderstanding. This was not good for us because this is a fabulous resource. The President went all- out to resolve this matter and happily it was resolved,” Charamba said in the radio show hosted by state-controlled Capitalk FM.

Apart from the platinum sector, in which Impala Platinum and Anglo Platinum are the biggest operators at the moment, Zimbabwe also has vast deposits of diamond, coal, nickel and chrome.