Leonard Ncube Bulawayo Bureau
Government will soon start sending police officers for training in Belarus after the two countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) seeking to co-operate in combating crime. Home Affairs and Culture Minister Dr Obert Mpofu and his counterpart, Belarus Internal Minister Lieutenant-General Igor Schunevich, signed the agreement on the sidelines of the Southern African Confederation of African Farmers’ Union annual conference which kicked off in Victoria Falls on Monday.
The MoU will, besides opening co-operation in areas of fighting crime which include drugs and human trafficking, anti-terrorism and other areas, help modernise the police service in the country.
This will add to already existing bilateral relations where the European country has been one of the major suppliers of mining equipment to Zimbabwe.
Speaking after the signing ceremony which was witnessed by President Mnangagwa, Dr Mpofu said the police service was the biggest winner although the MoU covers the entire Home Affairs Ministry.
“Following our discussions this morning, we agreed that Zimbabwe will be sending officers to Belarus to identify programmes where we need co-operation and there will also be a crack force that will be sent to Belarus for training in various areas of expertise,” said Dr Mpofu.
He said the arrangement was reciprocal allowing each country will send its teams on learning missions.
Dr Mpofu said Zimbabwe will participate and benefit through consultancy as well as training by the Belarus government, which has promised to finance the whole programme.
“The crack team is going in the next few days.The minister has invited me to send teams to Belarus and we will be receiving teams from Belarus as well to look into our policing systems and see how best they can develop and restructure and modernise our police services.
“This is of course for the whole Ministry of Home Affairs and we are dealing with areas of concern especially crime which include trafficking of drugs and human beings, anti-terrorism and many other hotspot areas of concern.
“They have got a state-of-the-art police academy to train police to deal with anti-riot activities which seem to be of concern in some countries in the region. The minister (Lt-Gen Schunevich) has made an offer to His Excellency who has actually accepted while the government of Belarus has indicated they will support the programme financially,” said Dr Mpofu.
He said the co-operation will be of immense benefit to Zimbabwe considering that Belarus is a very developed country in terms of equipment and technology.
Dr Mpofu said while criminal activity was minimal in the country, the co-operation is aimed at embracing technology in training to be able to deal with crime internationally.
Lt- Gen Schunevich, who is leading a team from Belarus at the conference, earlier paid a courtesy call on President Mnangagwa at a local hotel.