Felex Share Senior Reporter
The new dispensation in Zimbabwe should see the country strengthening its bilateral relations with India, with focus being on the economic front, an envoy has said.
Speaking after meeting Vice President Kembo Mohadi in Harare yesterday, Indian Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Rungsung Masakui said India will increase its investments in the country.
“The Vice President said we have had a cordial and friendly relationship and he emphasized that under the new dispensation, the relationship will further strengthen,” he said.
“He named several of them (relations), especially on the economic front; in particular, the SMEs sector where we learn from each other and mutually benefit. He also said under the new dispensation, opportunities have been opened up and they are inviting businesses from India to come and invest.”
Mr Masakui said VP Mohadi had explained to him the amendments to the Indigenisation Act.
“He reiterated the Government stance that the mining sector has been opened. The 51-49 percent aspect has been restricted to just two minerals, which are diamonds and platinum. He told me that Zimbabwe is committed to servicing the debt that is owed to multilateral lenders,” he said.
India, Mr Masakui said, has been giving Zimbabwe lines of credit.
“India has always been a friend of Zimbabwe irrespective of what happens. We have always been there. He said as the President of this country has said, elections will be free and fair and international observers will come. This is a good thing,” he said.
VP Mohadi said he had impressed upon the Indian Ambassador the need to deepen economic relations between the two countries.
“I briefed him about the impending elections, that we would want them to be credible, free and fair and that we will invite international observers to come and observe them. We can’t judge ourselves. We talked about economic issues.
“India is strong when it comes to SMEs. They have been here several times and we have held symposiums with them and we would like them to continue coming. SMEs contribute quite a lot to their GDP and we want to see the same happening here,” said VP Mohadi.
He added: “We also discussed about investment, especially in the medical field. They are good in terms of health; most people go there for treatment both from Africa, developing and developed countries. We want them to come here and maybe establish plants where they manufacture drugs and this will give our people employment.”
He said Zimbabwe will soon send a special envoy to India to brief the country on the new dispensation. Separately, VP Mohadi also met Botswana Ambassador to Zimbabwe Lieutenant- General Louis Fisher (Retired).
“I am here to congratulate the Vice President. The last time we were together is when he received my President (Ian Khama) when he visited for the inauguration (of President Mnangagwa). One the people tasked to look after him was the Vice President. I felt that he had that important task and afterwards came these changes where he was promoted, it was proper for me to come and say congratulations,” he said.
VP Mohadi said of the meeting: “We have been cooperating in many areas such as agriculture and various economic spheres, as well as trade.
“We also talked about the border, how we should mend it. It is a long 800 kilometre border. We also talked about assistance we have received from Botswana during our period of struggle and when we got sanctions slapped on us. Botswana has been an all-weather friend in Southern Africa.”
He said Zimbabwe wanted Botswana’s assistance in diamond administration. President Mnangagwa visited Botswana last week and made firm commitments to strength cooperation with President Khama’s administration.