The Herald

Zim, Iran sign 12 MOUs

President Mnangagwa welcomes President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Dr Seyyed Raisi, at Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport in Harare yesterday. — Pictures: Believe Nyakudjara

Zvamaida Murwira

Senior Reporter

PRESIDENT Mnangagwa and his visiting Iranian counterpart President Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi held crucial bilateral talks in Harare yesterday which saw the two countries signing 12 Memoranda of Understanding aimed at expanding cooperation in different fields as Harare and Tehran seek to deepen their political and economic ties.

The MOUs that were signed by respective ministers and heads of relevant government departments and portfolios were in the fields of agriculture, science, energy, labour, social protection, information communication and technology and pharmaceuticals as the two countries’ bilateral relations continue to grow from strength to strength. 

Addressing journalists drawn from the two countries at State House, President Mnangagwa said the MOUs were significant and Harare would religiously pursue them for the benefit of the two countries.

He said the visit by President Raisi was significant given that both Harare and Tehran were victims of illegal Western sanctions and were united in their fight against the punitive measures.

The Head of State and Government noted that yesterday’s visit by an Iranian leader was a second in about a decade after former leader, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, came to Harare in 2010.  

“He had long hours of discussion with our former President Mugabe, reminiscing on our historical relationship which developed between us and the Islamic Republic of Iran during our armed struggle. That relationship continues today and I believe that those who will come after us will continue to cherish, consolidate and comprehensively embrace this relationship that exists between the two republics,” said President Mnangagwa.

“We are happy that today, despite the fact that the visit has been brief, we have signed a record 12 MOus and I assure you that on our side as Zimbabwe, we shall religiously follow up on these MOUs for the benefit of the two republics, in particular for us to tap into the technological advancement your country has achieved.”

He said it was important that the two countries unite given that they are both victims of Western sanctions that include those imposed by the United States.

“It is critically important that we the victims of Western sanctions are talking to each other. The authors of these sanctions will not want us to talk to each other but because we are both victims, it is important that we show them that we are united. I am happy that we share this view with my dear brother, the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” said President Mnangagwa.

President Mnangagwa and Dr Raisi witness the signing of Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) at State House yesterday

“We think what is critically important as Zimbabwe is to be food secure and we are almost there. We have signed an agreement relating to co-operation in the mechanisation and modernisation of agriculture. I am aware that the Islamic Republic of Iran is well advanced in that sector and the establishment of a tractor factory will go a long way in modernising and mechanising our agriculture to consolidate this achievement of food security for the Republic of Zimbabwe. I am happy we have also signed an MOU which will give Zimbabwe both innovation and technology from Iran and we shall do our best to take this offer we are having from Iran.”  

President Raisi commended the two countries’ bilateral relationship saying he was optimistic that the two countries will achieve their national objectives given their capabilities and potential.

“I would like to thank our Almighty God who has bestowed us with capacities and potentials and such capacities can be complemented by other countries like Zimbabwe. It does not matter to us what other people are thinking, what is most important is to serve the mutual interest of both countries. The MOUs have been drafted to serve the interests of both peoples, we will pursue this religiously,” said President Raisi.

“We believe that putting these MOUs into practice is good for both of us. Working and putting efforts together, these are the requirements for achieving lasting goals to overcome the problems and bottlenecks created by the enemy. What has been a secret to our success is reliance on God. For the people of Zimbabwe, whether Christians or Muslims, they believe in God, such belief is the secret to success.”

He slammed Western countries that include the United States for using technology to inflict suffering on people.

“Technology should serve humanity but some people are trying to manipulate and exploit technology. They are trying to use it against human life instead of serving life. This has been our objection to the United States and the Western world, that’s why you are using such technology that could be useful in advancing humanity and to serve humanity, why are you using this technology against humanity and spirituality?” he said.

“Our co-operation with Zimbabwe and our co-operation with the African continent , which is a continent full of potential, could help us for mutual advances.”

In an interview, Energy and Power Development Minister Soda Zhemu said the MOUs will provide impetus to the country’s desire to solve energy-related challenges.

“The MOU is going to unlock a lot of potential mainly benefiting Zimbabwe especially in the area of gas, oil and refining. You are aware that in Muzarabani there is exploration going on and as a new frontier there is a lot that we want to learn from Iran and that is what the MOU entails. There is going to be sharing of experiences and training which Zimbabwe can benefit from,” said Minister Zhemu.

Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development Permanent Secretary, Professor Fanuel Tagwira, said the MOU will develop into some further studies that will benefit the country in line with the new thrust of Education 5.0.

“It is meant to establish a relationship in areas of education where there will be exchange of academic staff, in other words you might have academic staff from Iran who are specialists in a given area we might not have, we will ask them to come and teach but at the same time our own academics will go to Iran and do their sabbaticals,” said Prof Tagwira.

“There is also research where we will have Zimbabweans going to Iran and Iranians also coming to Zimbabwe to do research. There is also sharing of technologies, different types of technologies. As you know the Ministry of Higher Education is now focussed on ensuring that we deliver Education 5.0 that delivers goods and services. Iran is abound with technology like battery manufacturing, satellite and many other areas where they have made advances. There is also drone technology where we believe as a country there is a lot we can learn from.”

Other areas that the MOUs covered are in disability, child protection, labour and employment, occupational safety and reduction of labour related accidents, land and fish management and medical and pharmaceutical supplies.

President Raisi’s visit is part of a three-country Africa tour that includes Kenya and Uganda. He has since referred to Africa as a “continent of opportunities”.