President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr President, friends,
I am delighted to welcome all of you to St Petersburg.
Zimbabwe is Russia’s reliable ally on the African continent. We have established solid, reliable and friendly ties which date back to the time when the people of Zimbabwe fought for their independence.
Mr President, we highly value your personal contribution to strengthening cooperation between our two countries in all areas.
There is positive momentum in our political dialogue, including in our inter-parliamentary ties. The speakers of our respective upper chambers of parliament exchanged visits over the past two years. The Speaker of Zimbabwe’s National Assembly visited Moscow on two occasions. The two biggest parties of our countries, United Russia and the Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front, have been working with each other.
After a slight decrease in 2022, trade increased severalfold in January-April, not only making up for lost ground but even achieving a higher result. We have good prospects for working together in multiple sectors, as we will be sure to discuss today.
The practice of educating Zimbabwean specialists in Russia has also proven its worth with 1,200 students from Zimbabwe studying at Russian universities. We increased the number of government grants for the 2023–2024 academic year from 80 to 125. I am happy to note the growing interest in studying Russian. Over 100 Zimbabweans are currently enrolled in the online courses offered by St Petersburg State University.
Our respective ministries of sport and culture intend to sign bilateral memorandums of understanding on the sidelines of this summit. This will help strengthen our humanitarian relations and ties.
Russia and Zimbabwe have common or close views on most current issues on the international agenda. Your country traditionally supports Russia’s foreign political initiatives at the UN and votes for our candidates when it is necessary to fill a position. We very much appreciate this.
We know that your country will hold a general election soon. I am certain that it will be held in full compliance with national and international standards, and I would like to wish you and the party you lead every success.
President of Zimbabwe Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa: Your Excellency, allow me to express my sincere gratitude for the invitation for Zimbabwe to participate in this 2nd Russia – Africa Summit. This attests to the further deepening and broadening of the historically friendly relationship between the two countries. I congratulate your Excellency, President Putin, for hosting this event and convey appreciation for the warm hospitality that the Zimbabwean delegation has received.
Allow me to state, Your Excellency, that the long-standing relations between Zimbabwe and Russia remain very solid and excellent, rooted in both our countries’ firm belief in the sovereign right of countries to determine their own destinies. Russia has been a true friend of Zimbabwe’s in good and difficult times alike. We remain eternally grateful. I am confident that our relations will continue to grow and strengthen.
I recall with fond memories my fruitful state visit to the Russian Federation in January 2019, which accelerated cooperation between the two countries, and look forward to an increased high-level exchange visits and engagements at various levels and fora.
On economic cooperation, as we forge ahead, Your Excellency, it is indeed important for our two sides to work harder to further deepen bilateral trade and commercial exchanges. In this regard, the implementation of the areas reviewed at the fourth session of the Zimbabwe-Russia Intergovernmental Commission on Economic, Technical and Scientific Cooperation in May 2023 must be sped up.
Your Excellency, I acknowledge the investments in diamond mining by Alrosa, which has significantly contributed to the country’s development.
Your Excellency, on behalf of my government and the people of Zimbabwe, we are grateful for the partnership between our two countries on the helicopter project. We look forward to the delivery of the second batch of helicopters.
As I have always said, Zimbabwe is open for business, and I was pleased to interact with potential Russian investors at the business roundtable. Rest assured, Your Excellency, that my government is ready to welcome more Russian companies to take advantage of the numerous opportunities which exist in the agro-industrial sector, lithium mining, energy and infrastructure development, among other sectors.
I am aware that our two countries have signed a number of instruments of cooperation in the sectors that include mining, science and technology, tourism, agriculture, defence and security. I urge the two sides to work towards the implementation of the existing instruments as well as the finalisation of outstanding instruments.
In view of the sanctions imposed on both our countries and the subsequent challenges in undertaking US dollar denominated transactions, Zimbabwe is agreeable to pursue alternative autonomous solutions and the use of alternative forms of payment for various transactions. I am happy that the Russian Federation has already accomplished this as a result of the sanctions imposed.
Your Excellency and dear brother, allow me to convey my sincere gratitude for donating 11,000 metric tonnes of potash fertiliser and 9,000 metric tonnes of ammonium nitrate fertiliser. This gesture is a true testimony of the friendship of the Russian Federation to the people of Zimbabwe. This further reflects your personal commitment to supporting the transformation of our country’s agriculture, food security and sovereignty. I thank you.
May I also inform you that for three years now, Zimbabwe is food secure. With the model of agriculture we have adopted and the support we have received from your country, I believe that Zimbabwe will remain food secure.
Most notable is the deepening cooperation between Zimbabwe and the Russian Federation in advanced science and space technology. I recall the joint signing of an implementation agreement between the Zimbabwe Geospatial Agency (ZINGSA) and the Southwest University on space science and technology innovation which was signed in October 2021. This has ultimately led to the finalisation of the design, manufacture, assembly and testing of the satellite ZimSat-2 under which scholarships were offered to Zimbabwean students to study in the Russian Federation. Additionally, the Russian Federation provided 20 scholarships through RUDN university in various fields of nuclear education. The 20 candidates under these scholarships are scheduled to commence their studies in September this year.
Zimbabwean institutions are ready to promote more direct partnerships with educational and research institutions of the Russian Federation. May I also, Your Excellency, mention that we acknowledge the active support by the Russian Federation for the Museum of African Liberation project being hosted by Zimbabwe, hosting for the African continent, and in particular the establishment of the Russia Solidarity Movement in Liberation City. Further, we welcome the raising of the Russian Federation flag at the Liberation Museum site as an important symbolic gesture recognising the immense contribution of the Russian Federation to the liberation of the African continent from colonialism.
On international cooperation, Your Excellency, and the solid collaboration between our two countries at international fora and also against the continued aggression against the two countries, Zimbabwe strongly opposes the use of sanctions as a foreign policy tool that undermines the sovereignty of nations. Zimbabwe has been under the sanctions from the West for the past 23 years but as a result, we now think outside the box and use our domestic resources to grow and expand our economy.
May I highlight that Zimbabwe intends to bid for a non-permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council for the period of 2027 to 2028. We appeal for the support of the Russian Federation. Similarly, Zimbabwe submitted a request to Your Excellency to join the BRICS New Development Bank. We equally count on the support of Your Excellency in this endeavour.
Your Excellency, allow me to personally state that Zimbabwe is in solidarity with the Russian Federation in your country’s special military operation in Ukraine. As current Chair of the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme (KPC), Zimbabwe unreservedly condemns the unjustified and vindictive ban on the sale of Russian diamonds on the world market. We reassure you that the Russian Federation has the support of Zimbabwe within the KPC because Zimbabwe is the current chairman.
Your Excellency, in concluding my initial remarks, I want to once again express my appreciation for this opportunity to discuss issues of mutual interest to our countries. I look forward to more interactions and engagements by the two governments at various levels and fora as we deepen and broaden the ties between our respective countries.
Thank you, Your Excellency.