Mnangagwa Gave Belarus 10 000 Hectares Of Land In A Deal That Silently Sailed Through
13 February 2020
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President Emmerson Mnangagwa with the president of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko in 2019

Own Correspondent|In February last year, President Emmerson Mnangagwa gave Belarus 10 000 ha of land for agricultural production in Zimbabwe in a deal that was not apparently clearly exposed to the country.

The land is directly administered by the Office of Belarus President, Alexander Lukashenko.

Experts from Belarus came into the country to select the plots of land, test the soil and identity the type of fertilizers needed. They also studied the matters of irrigation and logistics and how to transport agricultural machines and equipment from Belarus to Zimbabwe.

Belarusians reportedly planned to grow maize and soya first and rice and wheat later. They also planned to build a dairy farm for 1000 cows by the end of last year.

Cattle for the project were to be brought from New Zealand. Simultaneously, a meat and milk processing line was to be launched.

Mnangagwa visited Belarus in January 2019. He invited Belarus President, Lukashenka to pay a visit to Zimbabwe in a surprise new cosy relationship.

The land deal could have been one of the bills that were signed when Zimbabwe and Belarus signed secretive deals worth US$350 million in September last year.

President Mnangagwa witnessed the signing ceremony in Harare.

Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Dr Sibusiso Busi Moyo represented Zimbabwe while Chief of Presidential Affairs General Colonel Victor Sheiman represented Belarus.

The President said as a result of a short period of preparation, only two out of six agreements had been completed and signed.

He said the rest of agreements on the part of the Belarus delegation have been completed, but Zimbabwe side still wanted to go through some legal processes such as the public agreements committee and going through Cabinet.

“Once that is achieved I think the Minister of Finance (Professor Mthuli Ncube) and other team from agriculture will travel to Belarus and will have those agreements signed,” he said then.

At the signing ceremony Minister Moyo said the agricultural agreement between Belarus and Zimbabwe on the development of an agricultural project was to enable the country to grow maize, wheat and soya beans for internal consumption.

“As you are aware the joint permanent commissions are meant to focus on economic issues and bilateral issues in a more detailed way, some of which could be a Bi-National Commission so that we can maximise benefits resulting from our relations with Belarus,” he said without disclosing details.

“That is typical transactional diplomacy.”

Details on what happened to the land are however still sketchy and these will be published as soon as they are available.