Tendai Mugabe Senior Reporter
India is exploring several areas of cooperation with Zimbabwe as the Asian giant seeks to strengthen its already flourishing relations with Harare.
The new areas include bilateral trade and capacity building, among others.
India, which is one of the emerging global economic giants together with China, is currently Zimbabwe’s biggest supplier of pharmaceutical products and other health related equipment.
Speaking to journalists after bidding farewell to President Mugabe at State House yesterday, outgoing Indian ambassador to Zimbabwe Surinder Datta, said Harare and New Delhi enjoyed cordial relations.
“We seek to expand our relations to increase bilateral trade, foreign capacity building projects and we are giving more 200 scholarships to Zimbabwean students.
“So there are many areas of cooperation,” said Ambassador Datta.
“Prospects for future cooperation are very bright between the countries. The relations are very strong and expected to be stronger.”
Ambassador Datta said although he was retiring from diplomatic service he would keep in touch with Zimbabwe’s ambassador to India with a view to deepen relations between the two countries.
He said during his tenure in Zimbabwe, he was involved in the organisation of the India-Africa Summit attended by President Mugabe also in his capacity as the African Union chairman in October last year.
During the meeting, Ambassador Datta said President Mugabe had a fruitful meeting with his Indian counterpart Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“I am retiring but I will remain in touch with your ambassador in New Delhi,” he said.
“We successfully had India — Africa Summit in the month of October (2015) and he (President Mugabe) had a fruitful meeting with our Prime Minister and we are now in the process of investing.”
Ambassador Datta said relations between the two countries were poised for greater growth.
He described his meeting with President Mugabe as warm and sound.
“His Excellency the President despite his busy schedule spent time with me,” he said.
“We discussed the ongoing strong relations between the two countries and also the future relations. I am really grateful to him.”
The beginning of Indian presence in Zimbabwe goes back to about 1890 when Indian plantation workers in apartheid South Africa crossed over to the then Southern Rhodesia.
At present the number of Zimbabweans of Indian origin, who are predominantly from the province of Gujarat, is estimated at about 9 000.
The community has formed societies on religious lines, though they live in harmony.
This community has mainly engaged itself in retail trade or export-import business.
The expatriate Indian community has a membership of 500. Some of them are on long-term business/work permits while most are professionals engaged in computer software, accountancy and banking.