Busy sched­ule for ED as he launches diplo­matic of­fen­sive

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Front Page - Felex Share Harare Bureau

AFTER tak­ing over from for­mer Pres­i­dent Robert Mu­gabe in Novem­ber last year, Pres­i­dent Mnan­gagwa and his team needed to pro­vide strong lead­er­ship and put the ba­sic fun­da­men­tals in place for the coun­try to take off. To achieve this, it meant a busy sched­ule for the Pres­i­dent as he had to ful­fil vary­ing pro­grammes lo­cally, re­gion­ally and in­ter­na­tion­ally.

The year 2018 saw the Head of State and Gov­ern­ment launch­ing a diplo­matic of­fen­sive with his re-en­gage­ment thrust and Zim­babwe is open for busi­ness mantra.

The ef­forts were not bar­ren as they saw Zim­babwe scor­ing ma­jor suc­cesses and at­tract­ing in­vest­ment com­mit­ments worth over $15 bil­lion.

This was largely due to the new dis­pen­sa­tion’s em­pha­sis on open­ness, hon­esty, hard work and com­plete de­par­ture from the scorched earth poli­cies of the pre­vi­ous ad­min­is­tra­tion.

To en­sure mu­tual co­op­er­a­tion with coun­tries across the globe, a mas­sive diplo­matic of­fen­sive needed to be launched.

Pres­i­dent Mnan­gagwa, be­ing a new kid on the block, kicked off the year by pay­ing cour­tesy calls on Sadc lead­ers ap­pris­ing them on the changes that had taken place in Zim­babwe.

That same month he raised the Zim­bab­wean flag high, made his first trip out­side Africa by at­tend­ing the World Eco­nomic Fo­rum in Davos, Switzer­land.

He be­came the first sit­ting Zim­bab­wean pres­i­dent to at­tend the event.

In Davos he held fruit­ful high-level meet­ings with renowned busi­ness­peo­ple, di­rec­tors of mul­ti­lat­eral in­sti­tu­tions and po­lit­i­cal lead­ers.

He had pro­lific dis­cus­sions with Swiss leader Al­lain Ber­set and made a plea for Euro­pean coun­tries to con­sider in­vest­ments in Zim­babwe.

He also held suc­cess­ful high level meet­ings with global busi­ness­men in­clud­ing the United King­dom-based Swiss bil­lion­aire, Urs Sh­waz­ern­bach, who is es­ti­mated to be worth about $2 bil­lion.

An­other ma­jor high­light of his en­gage­ments in Switzer­land was the en­dorse­ment his Gov­ern­ment re­ceived from the Euro­pean con­ti­nen­tal body.

Dur­ing his en­gage­ments, Pres­i­dent Mnan­gagwa said Zim­babwe was now open for busi­ness and wanted to be an ac­tive mem­ber in the global com­mu­nity of na­tions.

Euro­pean Union com­mis­sioner for in­ter­na­tional co-op­er­a­tion and de­vel­op­ment, Neven Mim­ica, after meet­ing Pres­i­dent Mnan­gagwa, said the EU sup­ports on­go­ing re­forms and ef­forts.

He capped the trip with a stopover in Ad­dis Ababa, Ethiopia, for the 30th African Union Sum­mit.

In Ad­dis Ababa he ap­prised African lead­ers of the po­lit­i­cal de­vel­op­ments back home that saw him as­cend to power.

He con­tin­ued with his diplo­matic of­fen­sive in the Sadc re­gion be­fore at­tend­ing the African Union Ex­tra­or­di­nary Sum­mit in Ki­gali Rwanda in March.

He joined other heads of state and gov­ern­ment in sign­ing the Con­ti­nen­tal Free Trade Area, which seeks to en­hance in­traAfrican trade.

To ex­pand Zim­babwe’s net­work of top level busi­ness con­tacts and new fi­nan­cial part­ners, Pres­i­dent Mnan­gagwa in March at­tended the sixth edi­tion of the Africa Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cers’ Fo­rum.

Over 1 200 in­flu­en­tial African and in­ter­na­tional CEOs, in­vestors and politi­cians from more than 70 coun­tries gath­ered for the an­nual fo­rum.

The Pres­i­dent grabbed the op­por­tu­nity to give an over­view of Zim­babwe’s eco­nomic re­cov­ery prospects.

Scal­ing up the re-en­gage­ment thrust, Pres­i­dent Mnan­gagwa un­der­took a five-day State Visit to China in April.

This gave mo­men­tum to Zim­babwe’s thrust of re­build­ing the econ­omy.

Zim­babwe-China re­la­tions were el­e­vated to a Com­pre­hen­sive Strate­gic Co­op­er­a­tion and Part­ner­ship and the visit en­abled the coun­try to un­lock fund­ing for key projects.

As a re­sult of Zim­babwe’s mount­ing debts and ar­rears, the world’s se­cond-big­gest econ­omy had taken a de­ci­sion to with­hold fund­ing for Zim­babwe’s pro­ject.

Pres­i­dent Mnan­gagwa’s April State visit to Bei­jing man­aged to un­lock crit­i­cal re­sources to bankroll the $1,2 bil­lion Hwange Power Sta­tion ex­pan­sion pro­ject, in­clud­ing money for Robert Gabriel Mu­gabe In­ter­na­tional Air­port ex­pan­sion ($200 mil­lion), Kun­zvi Dam ($680 mil­lion) and a new Par­lia­ment, among oth­ers.

The projects are at var­i­ous stages of im­ple­men­ta­tion.

The Pres­i­dent then had a few for­eign trips be­tween June and July as he was on a cam­paign trail for the July 30 har­monised elec­tions.

Pres­i­dent Mnan­gagwa and his rul­ing Zanu-PF won the polls.

In June, he at­tended the AU Sum­mit that was held in Mau­ri­ta­nia.

After his in­au­gu­ra­tion, the Pres­i­dent was back in China in Sep­tem­ber for the Fo­rum on China-Africa Co­op­er­a­tion (Fo­cac).

He held bi­lat­eral talks with Chi­nese leader Xi Jin­ping and signed sev­eral agree­ments.

The Pres­i­dent con­tin­ued with his busy sched­ule and in Sep­tem­ber he was in New York for the United Na­tions Gen­eral As­sem­bly Sum­mit.

He fully briefed the sum­mit on the coun­try’s new eco­nomic and po­lit­i­cal tra­jec­tory.

In Novem­ber, the Pres­i­dent vis­ited Guinea Con­akry at the in­vi­ta­tion of Pres­i­dent Al­pha Conde.

He signed three agree­ments with his coun­ter­part and was dec­o­rated with the Grand Cross award in recog­ni­tion of the grow­ing friend­ship and sol­i­dar­ity be­tween Guinea Con­akry and Zim­babwe.

He used his visit to seek Guinea Con­akry’s help in the re­moval of il­le­gal western sanc­tions, which are hurt­ing the econ­omy.

Pres­i­dent Mnan­gagwa also at­tended the 11th Ex­tra­or­di­nary Ses­sion of the As­sem­bly of the African Union (AU) held in Ad­dis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Dis­cus­sions at the sum­mit cen­tred on the in­sti­tu­tional re­form process of the con­ti­nen­tal body.

Back home, the Pres­i­dent had a packed year meet­ing var­i­ous po­lit­i­cal lead­ers from across the globe and in­vestors.

Since as­sum­ing of­fice last Novem­ber, he has been break­ing the ground, com­mis­sion­ing sev­eral in­vest­ment projects.

For these eco­nomic ac­tiv­i­ties, he earned him­self the nick­name “Mr Ground­break­ing”.

The ini­tia­tives set Zim­babwe on a tra­jec­tory that will see thou­sands of youths em­ployed, in­fra­struc­ture over­hauled in line with world stan­dards.

Chief among the projects was the com­mis­sion­ing and switch­ing on of the $533 mil­lion Kariba South Power Sta­tion pro­ject.

The pro­ject added 300 megawatts to the na­tional grid and cre­ated 900 jobs and re­duced the en­ergy im­port bill.

In June, Pres­i­dent Mnan­gagwa of­fi­ci­ated at the ground­break­ing cer­e­mony for the $1,5 bil­lion ex­pan­sion of Hwange Ther­mal Power Sta­tion.

The pro­ject is ex­pected to feed an ad­di­tional 600MW into the na­tional grid.

That same month, he launched the Com­mand Live­stock Pro­gramme and handed over 660 heifers to 151 ben­e­fi­cia­ries.

In the same prov­ince, Mata­bele­land South Prov­ince the fol­low­ing month, Pres­i­dent Mnan­gagwa broke the ground for the $241 mil­lion Beit­bridge ex­pan­sion pro­ject.

The mas­sive pro­ject will cre­ate em­ploy­ment and on com­ple­tion, change the face of sub­Sa­ha­ran Africa’s busiest port of en­try.

That same July he com­mis­sioned the $153 mil­lion up­grad­ing and re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion of Robert Gabriel Mu­gabe In­ter­na­tional Air­port in Harare.

He had ear­lier on com­mis­sioned the $400 mil­lion coaches, wag­ons and lo­co­mo­tives in Bulawayo – Zim­babwe’s in­dus­trial hub.

These were meant to re­vi­talise the Na­tional Rail­ways of Zim­babwe.

In the min­ing sec­tor, he re-opened Eu­reka Mine in Gu­ruve.

Over $60 mil­lion was poured into the pro­ject by Delta Gold, and it is ex­pected to pro­duce 1,5 tonnes of gold an­nu­ally when it reaches full ca­pac­ity.

He also vis­ited Mhon­doro for the $4,2 bil­lion Karo Re­sources ground­break­ing cer­e­mony.

The Karo deal comes with 90 000 jobs – 15 000 di­rectly and 75 000 in­di­rectly when it ma­tures by 2023.

A few weeks ago, Pres­i­dent Mnan­gagwa of­fi­ci­ated at the ground-break­ing cer­e­mony of the Ar­ca­dia Lithium Mine in Goromonzi that will see an ini­tial in­vest­ment of $165 mil­lion be­ing in­jected into the pro­ject.

The pro­ject, which is be­ing spear­headed by Aus­tralian com­pany, Prospect Re­sources, is ex­pected to em­ploy over 700 peo­ple in its first phase.

Pres­i­dent Mnan­gagwa (right) ad­dresses the Brics sum­mit in South Africa high­light­ing his re-en­gage­ment thrust and ‘Zim­babwe is open for busi­ness’ mantra in this file photo

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