World, africa

Zimbabwe's president seeks Russian investments

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa in Moscow on 3-day visit

  | 16.01.2019
Zimbabwe's president seeks Russian investments

By Elena Teslova

MOSCOW

Zimbabwe's President Emmerson Mnangagwa arrived in Moscow on Tuesday for a three-day official visit seeking help to resolve his country’s economic problems.

When Mnangagwa came to power in 2017 in a bloodless coup, succeeding longtime strongman Robert Mugabe, there were two major foreign players in Zimbabwe’s economy – China and South Africa, Zimbabwe's main sponsors and creditors.

Mnangagwa refused to deal with China, balking at the conditions the country set for its credits.

Zimbabwe’s “big brother” southern neighbor South Africa supports it in every way, but in the current situation, South Africa’s help and capabilities are limited. Zimbabwe’s ties with Western countries are not favorable, as it has been under sanctions since 2008.

In this scenario, Mnangagwa recalled that once the Soviet Union was a major sponsor of former Rhodesia.

In Moscow, a range of meetings with the heads of top Russian mining companies were organized for him. He was warmly met by President Vladimir Putin.

Moscow also eyes to strengthen its military presence in Africa. Mnangagwa seeks to solve, in first place, problems with fuel supplies, and Russia, being rich in oil and gas and having technologies for the hydrocarbons production, can help in this direction.

Russian companies are also interested in mining of platinum and diamonds widely used in the military.

Currently, Belarus, where Mnangagwa is heading to after his visit to Moscow, is the main technologies supplier of Zimbabwe.

Russia is eager to help Zimbabwe, but not to the extent that Mnangagwa expects, Director of the ‘Voice of Africa’ Engin Ozer told Anadolu Agency.

“Russia has no money, it can't be a creditor for the Zimbabwean economy, which needs billions of dollars for recovery. Russia is in a difficult situation itself because of sanctions and oil prices drop,” Ozer said.

He also noticed that possible cooperation with Zimbabwe can overshadow Russian-Chinese relations, which are currently on the rise.

“China lost billions of dollars when Mnangagwa came to power. I have doubts that [Chinese leader] Xi will be happy to see that Russia occupies its place in the country.

"Their 'good relations' with Putin don’t matter in such affairs. Russia and China are competitors in Africa with all further consequences,” he said.

Zimbabwe’s domestic affairs have long been in a deep crisis.

Since 2009, after hyper-inflation and devaluation of the Zimbabwean dollar, the authorities refused to use national currency in payments and replaced it with U.S. dollars, euros, South African rands and yuans.

Currently, the country’s two biggest cities -- Harare and Bulawayo -- are rocked by the riots, provoked by fuel prices hike.

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