By A Correspondent- One of the main beneficiaries of a slew of business agreements recently struck between Zimbabwe and Belarus is Aftrade, a business headed by infamous Belarusian tycoon Alexander Zingman.
Alexander Zingman was made Honourary Consul of Zimbabwe to the Republic of Belarus in January 2019.
Aftrade has obtained contracts to develop grain storage facilities, supply tractors and harvesters to the government, and secure equipment deals in the mining and logging industries thanks to the visit of Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko to Zimbabwe.
Four years ago, Zimbabwe announced that it needed 40 000 tractors, at a time when only 9000 were available to work Zimbabwe’s 4 130 000ha of arable land.
The southern African nation looked to Belarus and other suppliers in a bid to plug the gap.
Zimbabwe also signed a US$51 million deal with US company John Deere for the supply of 1 300 tractors, 80 combine harvesters and other equipment. Zimbabwe is also negotiating with India’s Mahindra, which abandoned a plan in 2018 to set up an assembly plant in Zimbabwe due to forex shortages.
Belarus has already supplied equipment to Zimbabwe, but, says Lukashenko, that was only the first phase. newZWire cites him as saying:
But it is just the beginning. We’ve launched the third phase of the programme to the tune of over US$66 million. It provides for shipping over 3,700 tractors, 60 harvesters to the local agrarians within the next 1.5 years.
Aftrade and MTZ, one of Europe’s biggest tractor exporters, will supply at least 3 575 tractors to Zimbabwe between 2023 and 2024. Aftrade has distribution rights for MTZ equipment in the country. MTZ director general Vitaly Vovk said:
The Zimbabwean market opened for Belarus machinery several years ago thanks to our reliable partner, Aftrade DMCC. We are glad that today we are talking about strategic partnership that envisages work on a systematic perspective basis.
We know that last year, for the first time in the past 50 years, the country fully provided itself with grain. It is gratifying that the country succeeded also thanks to Belarus machinery
The new tractors add to the 1 800 tractors and harvesters that MTZ has already supplied to Zimbabwe.
Aftrade was also awarded a contract to supply equipment manufactured in Belarus for the construction and modernisation of grain storage complexes. While no details are known, Agriculture Secretary John Basera recently said Zimbabwe needed to spend over US$275 million over the next three years to build new grain silos, adding 750 000 tonnes of storage space to the current 500 000 tonnes.
MTZ was a major supplier of equipment to Ukraine before the Russia war started, and also exported to the US and Canada.