Kuda Bwititi Senior Reporter
Indian Vice-President Shri Venkaiah Naidu, who left the country yesterday, assured President Mnangagwa that his country will offer immediate assistance to Zimbabwe’s health sector, in what has come as timely shot in the arm for the healthcare industry which is currently facing challenges in the supply of drugs and lack of modern expertise.
Zimbabwe is expected to receive an assortment of drugs, ambulances as well as benefit from India’s medical inventions to kick-start what is set to be a long-term partnership between the countries in the health sector.
President Mnangagwa extended an invitation to Indian pharmaceutical and medical companies to set up shop in Zimbabwe and share their expertise with local practitioners.
The Asian giant is renowned for one of the world’s best health systems, known for providing high quality healthcare and advanced treatment technologies.
VP Naidu, who is the first high-ranking Indian government official to visit Zimbabwe in more than 20 years, also became the latest high-profile international figure to give the thumbs-up to the country’s July 30 elections, after he said the polls were free and fair.
Addressing journalists at State House on Saturday morning after meeting VP Naidu, President Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe now stands to benefit immensely from India’s celebrated healthcare industry.
“As we all know, India has excelled . . . in terms of economic development, particularly in the area of medicine. India is being rated worldwide as one of the most modern highly qualified centres in the whole world,” he said.
“Zimbabwe does not intend to re-invent the wheel. We need to leapfrog and go India, have assistance from India for our people in that sector, to leapfrog and catch up with modern medical practices in India.
“In fact, we would want India to have a high footprint here medically in Zimbabwe. We have discussed that and we feel that the opportunity is there.
“We as Zimbabwe are ready, willing and committed to have the Indian government and through their companies to come and establish pharmaceutical companies in Zimbabwe.”
President Mnangagwa said the visit by the Indian Vice-President, which comes after Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga visited the Asian country this year, was a huge boost in elevating relations between the two countries.
“We are delighted that a man of his stature has visited Zimbabwe. His Excellency is coming immediately after our harmonised general elections which we concluded some seven or so weeks ago which means that our brothers and sisters in India have a very high respect for the people of Zimbabwe and this is why immediately after the inauguration of the current dispensation he has been able to come.
“Yes, of course, some months ago, we also sent our Vice-President Chiwenga as a special envoy to India to convey to my counterpart that we want to continue and heighten relations between our two countries.
“I am so happy with the response by the Vice President himself that he has come to fulfil that which exists between Zimbabwe and India.
“I am sure the Zimbabwean people know that India has assisted us in the field of energy and railways all along, even during the period of isolation.”
In his briefing to journalists, VP Naidu said India is willing to assist Zimbabwe’s health sector in big way.
“We have engaged categorically in a truthful manner on the cooperation of India and Zimbabwe also on the willingness of Zimbabwe to use the expertise of India on the medical side and also our expertise in railways and also other areas and subjects.
“I am very happy that you want Indian pharmaceutical companies to come to Zimbabwe, they are willing.
“On the medicines side, we are competing with the best in the world. Prices have come down because of new inventions created by India. We are happy to announce that we will be assisting with 10 ambulances. We will also be giving life-saving drugs to the people of Zimbabwe,” he said.
VP Naidu said he was “very happy about the way the elections were conducted”, saying his country was satisfied with Zimbabwe for upholding democracy.
He said the India’s government sent a delegation from its electoral commission to observe the polls.
“They were free and fair, there was democracy and we as India promote democracy in the world. We are very happy about the smooth conduct of the elections.
“The Indian Electoral Commission, our people, observed the elections and they had good experiences. They reported back to us and they said elections were very free and fair.
“We are very happy about it and we commend the people of Zimbabwe for the peaceful conduct during the elections.”
India’s VP said his Government will set up a centre in Zimbabwe to honour iconic former leader of India, Mahatma Ghandi.
“I have expressed my willingness to His Excellency of my preparedness to set up the Mahatma Gandhi commemoration centre here.
“We are celebrating the 150th anniversary of Gandhi and I also hope that we can do it here in a big way,” VP Naidu said.
He also commended the people of Zimbabwe for being hospitable to the large Indian community that lives in Zimbabwe.
“We have heard a lot about the leadership of President Mnangagwa, he is very friendly and he has promised that we take our relationship to greater heights.
“The Indian community here is large. We spent time last night, there were about 300 of them, they were quiet happy, they are a large number and we are also happy with the people of Zimbabwe for the hospitality that they have shown in assisting them.”