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Sunday, 12 July 2015 14:08

Russia Considers Zim Top Prospective Partner

By Abigail Mawonde, Target Shumba

HARARE, Zimbabwe, June 12, 2015 (The Herald) -- Russia considers Zimbabwe as one of its top prospective partners for economic, technical, humanitarian and cultural co-operation, the Russian ambassador to Zimbabwe has said.


Speaking at an event to mark the Russian national day celebrations in Harare on Tuesday, Mr Sergey Bakharev said through joint efforts, the two countries could strengthen and considerably diversify mutually beneficial contracts.


"We are sure that by joint efforts we can strengthen and diversify considerably all the range of the win-win contracts, to start implementing new (and) mutually projects," Mr Bakharev said.


He said relations between Zimbabwe and Russia, dating back from the pre-independence era, continued to grow, culminating in the signing of the $4 billion joint platinum mining venture last year.


"I am confident that those agreements reached between our countries will assist us to bring our trade and economic relations to a completely new level that will match our excellent political dialogue," said Mr Bakharev.


He said it was important for such deals to come to fruition for the benefit of the two countries.


"Let all our plans and projects become true for the benefit of the friendly peoples of Russia and Zimbabwe," said Mr Bakharev.


President Mugabe visited Moscow last month to attend the commemoration of the 70th Victory Day in World War II during which he held a meeting with his Russian counterpart, President Vladimir Putin.


Mr Bakharev paid tribute to the increasingly important role that President Mugabe was playing on the global stage in his capacity as the chairperson of both the African Union and Sadc.


He said Africa remained one of Russia's foreign policy priorities.


Speaking at the same event, Ministry of Foreign Affairs director for Europe and the Americas Ambassador Chitsaka Chipaziwa said on behalf of the Government, they were heartily celebrating the growing and diversified relations between the two countries.


The reception was attended by senior Government officials, members of the diplomatic corps and civil society.


In another development, the Herald reporter, Zvamaida Murwira, also wrote for his newspaper that the Acting President Phelekezela Mphoko met Russian Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Sergey Bakharev and held discussions on enhancing bilateral co-operation between the two countries.


Briefing journalists soon after meeting Acting President Mphoko at his Munhumutapa offices, Mr Bakharev said their discussions centred on business deals that Harare and Moscow signed last year.


He said they also discussed the business meetings President Mugabe held during his visit to Moscow last month.


Russian investors are financing a $4 billion platinum mine in the Great Dyke in a joint venture with Zimbabwe.


"We discussed at length bilateral relations. Specifically, we made emphasis on economic ties and development. You may well be aware that recently Russia became one of the biggest investors in this country," said Mr Bakharev.


"Great importance was given to the recent visit of your President to Moscow in May. We consider Zimbabwe as one of our best all weather friends in Africa.


We cherish this relationship. My Government is doing its best to enhance this relationship. Politically, relations are good. We are moving in the right direction, we are moving in the economic direction."


Mr Bakharev said while political relations between the two countries were strong as they dated back to the liberation struggle, it was high time that they were transformed into economic benefits.


He said Acting President Mphoko was conversant with the Russian economy since he was once Zimbabwe's ambassador to Moscow.


"Politically, our relations are absolutely excellent," said Mr Bakharev. "On the economic sphere, the Acting President knows my country quite well. He was once ambassador to my country. He is well aware of all the problems and the economic potential of my country."


The Russian investors told President Mugabe in Moscow that they were on course to meet timelines set in a roadmap in September last year during a high profile visit by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.


Under the roadmap, the mine in Darwendale will be developed in three phases, with the first phase running from 2014 to 2017 entailing exploration, infrastructure development and commissioning of mining facilities.


The second phase from 2018 to 2021 will see the establishment of a new mine and expansion of concentration capacity to produce 530 000 ounces of platinum per year.


The third and full development phase will run from 2022 to 2024 and will see the expansion of platinum production to 800 000 ouncec per year.

The project will create 8 000 jobs on completion. (END)



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