Kudakwashe Mugari in SOCHI, Russia
President Mnangagwa has pleaded with Russian businesspeople to assist in the recovery of Zimbabwean companies decimated by illegal sanctions imposed on the country by the West.
He told them that under the “Zimbabwe is Open for Business” mantra, it was important for Russian businesspeople to take up opportunities that exist in many sectors including sanitation, transport and tourism.
The President, who is here for the Russia-Africa Summit, said this during a business meeting with over 20 Russian investors and buyers from various sectors of economy including manufacturing, agriculture, mining, transport, tourism, energy and retailers.
The meeting was attended by the Acting Foreign Affairs Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube, ICT Minister Kazembe Kazembe and ZimTrade CEO Mr Allan Majuru.
The Russian delegation was led by Ms Daria Ruchkova from the Federal State Enterprise.
President Mnangagwa said illegal sanctions had crippled the manufacturing sector which is now 20 years behind.
“Over 80 percent of the manufacturing sector was linked to the United Kingdom and they imposed sanctions on us and those companies could not access new technology, could not access retooling, could not access spares.
“So we are 20 years behind in that sector; we need new machinery so that production starts and people get jobs,” said President Mnangagwa.
He also called on the Russian businesspeople to consider taking up opportunities in the transport sector through the provision of buses since the population was growing.
“Our transport sector is also behind; we have the worst transport system in the region. We need buses, big and small, either we import or we have joint ventures in order to boost our transport system.
“Despite the sanctions, the population is still growing hence we need investment in sanitation and water we need clean and drinkable water accessible by everyone,” he said.
Government has sourced buses from China, Belarus and South Africa to boost Zupco’s fleet and cushion commuters who are being fleeced by privately owned kombis.
Close to 100 of the buses have since been delivered while others are on the way.
There are plans to have 3 000 conventional Zupco buses under the scheme and the buses will be deployed on urban and rural routes to ease transport woes.
President Mnangagwa also encouraged the Russians to invest in the provision of clean water and energy.
“We need clean water in the urban areas. In energy, we need investment in transmission, carrying of power from the source until it is distributed to the last consumer,” he said.
Turning to tourism, the President said Zimbabwe was blessed with flora and fauna.
He said there was the majestic Victoria Falls but called on investors to build hotels, conference centres, and leisure entities. “Any investor coming to do business in this area, we declared it a Special Economic Zone (SEZ). This area is surrounded by wildlife around Victoria Falls; lions, buffaloes, elephants. “Actually, we have an overpopulation of wildlife in Zimbabwe. Before I came here there was a person who was killed by an elephant as a result of conflict between people and animals,” said the President.
Speaking at the same event, Ms Ruchkova said the meeting was an eye opener and Zimbabwe should do more in selling its investment opportunities. “Very few investors here know about the opportunities in Zimbabwe and the President did a good job to market his country but I think more must be done to put Zimbabwe on the map after its image was tainted by Western media,” she said.
Last night, President Mnangagwa attended a dinner hosted by President Vladimir Putin, which was attended by other African Heads of State and Government.