The Sunday Mail
Kuda Bwititi and Norman Muchemwa
Zimbabwe and India yesterday signed six agreements to heighten bilateral co-operation and explore mutually beneficial opportunities in health, media, sports, mining and ICTs.
Vice-President Kembo Mohadi and his Indian counterpart VP Venkaiah Naidu oversaw the signing ceremony in Harare yesterday.
VP Naidu is on a three-day working visit to Zimbabwe and is accompanied by India’s Foreign Secretary Mr TS Tirimurti, MPs and senior government officials.
The first agreement to be signed was on the reciprocal exemption of visa requirements for holders of diplomatic passports.
Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Cain Mathema signed on behalf of Government while Mr TS Tirumurti represented India.
The second agreement was on an action plan for co-operation in ICTs, which was signed by Minister Mathema in his capacity of Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.
Mr TS Tirumurti represented the Asian giant on a memorandum of understanding on arts, culture and heritage with Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation Minister Coventry; and another on co-operation in geology, mining and mineral resources with Mines and Mining Development Minister Winston Chitando.
There were also agreements on traditional systems in medicine and homeopathy (signed by Health and Child Care Minister Dr Obadiah Moyo), while the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation signed an MoU on an action plan on broadcasting and ICTs with Indian media organisation Prasar Bharati.
The parties also held a Zimbabwe-India Business Forum, where VP Mohadi said VP Naidu’s visit would deepen relations between the two nations.
“It is my pleasure to grace the Zimbabwe-India Business Forum with my counterpart, the visiting Vice-President of India, Honourable Shri Venkaiah Naidu. The visit provides an opportunity to strengthen economic co-operation between Zimbabwe and India in the fields of trade and investment,” he said.
“I am happy to note that the visiting Honourable Vice-President of India is accompanied by a big business delegation from India. Equally encouraging is the participation of a big number of Zimbabwean business people in this forum.
India, VP Mohadi said, was a strategic partner and potential market for Zimbabwean goods and services, as well as a source of finished goods, investment and technology transfer.
VP Naidu said there was scope of the two countries to co-operate more.
“India and Zimbabwe have very strong trade co-operation dating back to the 17th century when the two countries traded in ivory, metals and other items. Our co-operation is based on fair values of democracy and rule of law.
“India can form economic partnerships with Zimbabwe both for domestic economy, in the key areas of mining, agriculture, engineering, communication technology, health, among others,” he said.
“Zimbabwe can also co-operate with India in food processing, value addition and beneficiation of goods for the betterment of the two friendly countries. India is advanced in terms of agriculture technology and the use of drip irrigation. Indian farmers should come to Zimbabwe to work with Zimbabwean farmers on private-business partnerships.”
Co-operation on international platforms, he said, should be used to the benefit the two nations.
“Our two countries share similar views on international issues and there is need for continued co-operation on the international forum on issues of mutual understanding which can benefit both countries.
“I am happy that Zimbabwe held a free and fair elections, we had our delegation here; free and fair elections open democratic space and can open Zimbabwe for business.”
Among dignitaries at the forum were ministers Monica Mutsvangwa (Information, Media and Broadcasting Services) and Chitando, Deputy Minister Raji Modi (Industry and Commerce), and ambassadors from both countries.