Russians descend on Harare

Russia’s President Mr Vladimir Putin will this week dispatch a high-powered delegation led by his Foreign Minister Mr Sergei Lavrov to Zimbabwe, in yet another show of confidence in President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration.

Minister Lavrov will be accompanied by senior Russian government officials and businesspersons.

The US$3 billion joint venture, Zimbabwe Russia Great Dyke Investment platinum project, is one of the biggest investments in the country since 1980 and is likely to click into gear with the visit, renewing commitments set to be made on the deal.

The project has not proceeded as swiftly as anticipated, with Government officials indicating the previous Government had negotiated a bad deal back in 2014, but the parties were well down the road to ironing out issues to ensure things proceeded on a genuine win-win basis.

Besides the mining sector, Mr Lavrov’s visit this week is also expected to culminate in cementing of agreements in agriculture and energy.

Mr Lavrov is one of President Putin’s most trusted confidantes, and is a globally recognisable figure who has been at the heart of Russia’s foreign policy for 14 years now.

In an interview with The Sunday Mail, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Dr Sibusiso Moyo said: “Yes, Mr Lavrov will be coming to Zimbabwe . . . and he will be coming as a Special Envoy of His Excellency, Russia’s President Putin.

“This is part of our global consultations and the re-invigoration of our nation’s relationships with our traditional friends and the deepening of our relations with these friends. Such influential countries help us to take our place in international relations.”

Dr Moyo said engagements would dwell on economic and political issues.

“This is obviously an important visit, one of the most important we have had in our administration. So the issues will be wide ranging and we will continue to advise you,” he said.

An official at Russia’s Embassy in Harare last week said the visit would cover March 7-8.

“Mr Lavrov will meet President Mnangagwa as well as his host, Minister SB Moyo. Mr Lavrov’s delegation will include some officials from the Ministry of Trade and Commerce as well as businesspeople from Russia,” he said.

Zimbabwe’s chief envoy to Moscow, Ambassador Mike Nicholas Sango — whose mission has been seized with preparations for the visit — arrived in Harare last week.

Yesterday, Great Dyke Investment chair Dr Hepsina Rukato said the company had already invested US$60 million in the platinum mine, with another US$400 million coming in over the course of 2018.

“We are talking about the implementation of a full cycle of work: detailed design, procurement of equipment, construction materials, machinery, as well as further organization and control over the construction of the facility. According to our estimates the investment in the first phase the project construction is US$400 million.”

Mr Lavrov was last in Zimbabwe in 2014 for the Darwendale platinum mine’s ground-breaking ceremony.

The US$3 billion project is expected to create 8 000 jobs.

The Russian Foreign Minister’s latest visit to Zimbabwe follows last week’s hectic foreign policy schedule for Harare, which saw President Mnangagwa’s administration hosting Belarus Chief of Presidential Affairs, General Colonel Victor Sheiman.

Finance and Economic Planning Minister Patrick Chinamasa was in Britain for talks with UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.

The week also saw multitudes of potential investors coming for the Zimbabwe Mining Investment Conference, a precursor to this week’s Zimbabwe Investment Conference.

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  • inini1545

    For some unknown reasons my gut feeling about the Russians being involved in Zimbabwe tells me that we are going to bed with the devil.