“FREQUENT EXCHANGE OF HIGH-LEVEL VISITS BETWEEN OUR NATIONS”
Diplomatic and Business Editor Yogesh Sood caught up with H.E. Dr. Godfrey Majoni Chipare, Ambassador of Zimbabwe to India, and questions and answers on wide-ranging topics followed.
Zimbabwe and India have had historical ties since the 17th century. India supported Zimbabwe’s freedom struggle. Please take us through a bit of this history between our nations…
Zimbabwe and India have enjoyed cordial relations since the medieval times. Trade relations between Zimbabwe and India date back to the pre-colonial era. Indian merchants would exchange spices and other commodities for gold, and other commodities with traders in Southern Africa as way back as the era of the Munhumutapa Empire that reigned during the 14th Century. A Prince of the Munhumutapa Kingdom studied in Goa India, and later served as a Roman Catholic Priest in the Mumbai area. India assisted Zimbabwe with political material and moral support during the liberation struggle. The relations were further enhanced after Zimbabwe attained her independence leading to the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1984. Since then bilateral relations between the two countries have grown exponentially.
The Indian Minister of State for External Affairs visited Zimbabwe in June 2022 and had fruitful meetings. Could you please elaborate a bit on this high-level visit?
The Indian Minister of State for External Affairs and Parliamentary Affairs, Honourable Vellamvelly Muraleedharan, visited Zimbabwe from 6 to 8 June, 2022. During the visit, the Honourable Minister paid a courtesy call on the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, His Excellency Cde. Dr. E. D. Mnangagwa. He also paid a courtesy call on the First Lady of Zimbabwe, Her Excellency Dr. A. Mnangagwa, during which he handed over a donation of 950 and sewing machines for her Charity Organisation, Angel of Hope Foundation. The Minister had a tete-a-tete with his Zimbabwean counterpart Honourable F.M.M. Shava.
Kindly talk us through some of the other high-level visits that have taken place between the two countries in recent times…
The frequent exchange of high- level visits between Zimbabwe and India in recent times bears testimony to the cordial relations subsisting between the two countries. The Vice President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Honourable Gen. (Rtd) Dr. C.G.D.N. Chiwenga, visited India in March 2018 as a Special Envoy of the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, His Excellency Cde.Dr. E. D. Mnangagwa and attended the CII-EXIM Bank Conclave on India-Africa Growth Partnership, accompanied by a high-level delegation.
Former Vice President of India, Shri Venkaiah Naidu, accompanied by an Indian high-level delegation, visited Zimbabwe in November, 2018. This was the first ever visit by an Indian Vice President and the highest -level visit from India to Zimbabwe in 22 years. During the visit six (6) Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) in various areas of bilateral cooperation were signed between the two countries. The Vice President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Honourable Gen. (Rtd) Dr. C.G.D.N. Chiwenga, visited India in June 2023 as Head of the Zimbabwe Delegation to the 18th Edition of the CII- EXIM Bank Conclave on India – Africa Growth Partnership, which was held in New Delhi, from 14 to 16 June, 2023.
In July, 2022 and February 2023, the Honourable Vice President undertook private visits to India. The First Lady of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Her Excellency Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa, visited India in May, 2022. During the visit, she was conferred with an Honorary Doctorate Degree in Humanities by G. D. Goenka University in recognition of the philanthropic work she continues to do in Zimbabwe through the Angel of Hope Foundation.
The Speaker of the Parliament of Zimbabwe, Hon. Adv. J.F.N. Mudenda visited India from 5 to 12 December, 2022 at the invitation of his Indian counterpart. During the visit the Honourable Speaker met with Indian business people where the proposal of the establishment of a Millet Park was presented.
The Minister of Information Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Honourable Monica Mutsvangwa, led a Zimbabwean delegation to the 17th CII-EXIM Bank Conclave on India-Africa Growth Partnership from 18 to 22 July 2022. The Conclave was held in New Delhi, India. The other members of the delegation were the Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Hon. C. Chiduwa, Deputy Minister of Health and Child Care, Hon. J.C. Mangwiro and Senior Government Officials. During the visit, the Honourable Minister managed to hold a meeting with her Indian counterpart Hon. Shree Anurag Singh Thakur. At the invitation of her Indian counterpart, Honourable Monica Mutsvangwa attended the International Film Festival of India in Goa as a Guest of Honour from 20 to 28 November 2022.
The Minister of Defence and War Veterans Affairs, Hon. Oppah Chamu Zvipange Muchinguri-Kashiri, and her delegation visited India for the Aero-India-23 held in Bangalore from 13 to 17 February, 2023.
The Deputy Minister of Transport and Infrastructure Development, Honourable M. Madiro, together with a delegation from the National Railways of Zimbabwe visited India from 28 August, 2022 to 01 September, 2022. The National Railways of Zimbabwe signed a Memorandum of Understanding with RITES, an entity of the Indian Government for the supply of locomotives. The Agreement is yet to be implemented.
The Deputy Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development, Hon. Raymore Machingura, attended the UNESCO-India-Africa Hackathon in New Delhi from 21 to 24 November, 2022. Zimbabwe had 18 students drawn from several universities in Zimbabwe who participated at the UNESCO-India-Africa Hackathon. Zimbabwe won 5 medals.
The Deputy Minister of Mines and Mining Development, Honourable P. Kambamura, visited India from 16 to 18 December, 2022 to attend the SVUM Trade Show in Rajkot, Gujarat.
The Deputy Minister of Industry and Commerce, Hon. R.K.I Modi, visited India from 07 to 30 January, 2023. During the visit, the Hon. Deputy Minister attended several meetings namely; The PravasiBharatiya Divas Convention held in Madhya Pradesh from 08 to 10 February, 2023, the Global Investor Summit held in Madhya Pradesh from 11 to 12 January, 2023, the NRI Council Conference Awards organized by India Economic Trade Organization in Madhya Pradesh on 10 January, 2023. The Deputy Minister also visited Chandigarh University where he met Zimbabwean students on Presidential and National Scholarship. He held some business meetings in Ahmedabad, Gujarat.
The then Permanent Secretary for Defence and War Veterans Affairs Ambassador M.G. Marongwe led a delegation to the India Defence Expo that was held in Gandhinagar, Gujarat, India from 18 to 22 October, 2022.
The Commissioner General of Police, Mr Tandabantu Godwin Matanga, led a delegation to the 90th General Assembly of the INTERPOL that was held in New Delhi from 18 to 21 October, 2022.
The Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development, Mr Moses Mhike, visited India from 18 to 27 January, 2023 on a SMEs familiarization and study tour. He led a delegation of four ministry officials and seventeen SMEs business people.
Please let us know about bilateral trade and business, and the extent of imports and exports from India and vice versa.
Zimbabwe’s trade with India encompasses raw materials, semi-processed and finished products. The range of products includes precious stones, minerals, coffee, tea, mate and spices, tobacco and manufactured tobacco substitutes, etc. India’s exports to Zimbabwe include pharmaceutical products; manufacturing equipment and chemicals with direct exports amounting to US$ 9.8million while imports were US$ 153.7million, for the period April 2022-May 2023.