Presidents to visit Vic Falls today
Leonard Ncube Victoria Falls Reporter
PRESIDENT Mnangagwa and his Belarusian counterpart President Aleksandr Lukashenko are expected to visit the tourism city of Victoria Falls this morning as the two countries seek to cement relations across all economic sectors.
The Belarusian President arrived in the country on Monday on a three-day State visit and yesterday morning visited the National Heroes Acre in Harare.
The State visit ends today with a visit to Victoria Falls to sample what the world tourism destination has to offer.
This is expected to open up tourism relations between the two countries.
Victoria Falls is where President Mnangagwa launched the National Tourism Growth and Recovery Strategy at the height of Covid-19 in 2020 to recapacitate the tourism sector which targets a US$5 billion industry by 2025.
The visit by President Lukashenko is a first of its kind to Sub-Saharan Africa and signifies Zimbabwe’s growing global influence and is the fruit of the country’s engagement and re-engagement agenda.
It is also testimony to the success of President Mnangagwa’s policy of “a friend to all and enemy to none” and also the Zimbabwe is Open for Business Mantra.
The tour of the country’s tourism destination is a clear testimony of mutual commitment to further strengthen economic relations and open opportunities in the tourism sector.
Hundreds of people are expected at the Victoria Falls International Airport to welcome the two Heads of State.
Matabeleland North Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Richard Moyo yesterday said the visit to Victoria Falls puts the tourism destination on the world map.
“We will be welcoming the two Presidents tomorrow (today) to our province and this is a very important development. We are a tourism province and what the Belarusian President will see here will go a long way in shaping the future of our tourism industry.
“He will take the message about the majestic Victoria Falls to his country and region and thousands will start visiting the Matabeleland North destination,” said Minister Moyo.
He said details of the itinerary of the two Presidents will be availed today but the Belarusian President was keen on visiting the Rainforest.
“He is here to have a feel of what Victoria Falls has to offer and is expected to sample some activities. This is important to us as a province as it shows that we are really open for business. This is the first time a Belarusian President is visiting and its shows the success of the policy of engagement and re-engagement and as a province we are so happy to be part of this development,” said Minister Moyo.
The reciprocated State visit dovetails very well with Government’s thrust on economic diplomacy and buttresses the mantra that ‘Zimbabwe is Open for Business’.
Several deals in key sectors of agriculture, mining, infrastructural development, science and innovation are expected to be consummated.
Bilateral relations between the two countries have grown from strength-to-strength, with high-level exchange visits undertaken over the years.
In 2019, President Mnangagwa, as part of his engagement and re-engagement agenda, visited Belarus where the two countries, inter alia, signed an MoU establishing a Joint Permanent Commission, a framework under which commitments were made to strengthen co-operation in various sectors including agriculture, mining, infrastructural development, science and innovation.
This comes as President Mnangagwa, using scientific methods, has put in place mechanisms to ensure that the country’s agriculture sector is both mechanised and rewarding to farmers, by being responsive not only to local demand but global demands vis-à-vis shortages of cereals wrought by climate change, Covid-19 and also conflicts.
Under Phase One of the Belarus Mechanisation programme, Zimbabwe took delivery of 474 tractors, 60 combine harvesters, 210 planters, and 5 low bed trucks which were distributed to farmers through CBZ and the Land Bank.
Positive effects of the programme are being felt across the country as farmers increase production and productivity through mechanised farming that uses modern technology to meet not only food security but sovereignty, as espoused by President Mnangagwa.
The Second Republic also acquired a fleet of buses from Belarus as the country reconfigures its transport sector.
The visit cements the relations through the launch of the Second Phase of the Belarus Mechanisation Facility, the first of which was launched last year. At its inauguration, the Second Republic set its eyes on the goal of achieving National Food Security through local production, by among other things increasing access to, and greater utilisation of land, and modernising the Agricultural sector through mechanisation, science, and more intensive farmer extension support.