Zimbabwean president leaves for Eastern Europe on investment drive

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Zimbabwe's fired vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa is seen at the Heroes Acre in Harare in this Wednesday, Nov., 1, 2017 photo. {Photo AP /Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi]

President Emmerson Mnangagwa left Harare early Monday morning on a state visit to Russia.

From Russia, he will also visit Azerbaijan, Belarus and Kazakhstan as he seeks to consolidate relations with the eastern European countries as he seeks to boost re-engagement efforts with the broader international community.

He is also due to travel to Davos, Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum which takes place Jan. 22-25.

Presidential spokesperson George Charamba told media the idea behind the visits was to boost Zimbabwe’s image within the international community.

He said the visits were strategic and Zimbabwe was expecting “quite a bumper harvest of agreements and Memoranda of Understanding.”

Charamba said all this was in the context of the engagement and re-engagement policy adopted by the government.

“The whole idea is to put Zimbabwe firmly on the map so that we leave behind us the dark days when we were perceived as a pariah state,” he said.

Zimbabwe has suffered international isolation since the early 2000s following land reforms that resulted in thousands of white farmers losing land to formerly landless blacks, while at the same time western countries were worried about governance issues.

Mnangagwa’s visit to Switzerland was a sign that there was growing interest in the Zimbabwean economy, Charamba added.

He said the invitation was also a sign that the jinx of isolation had been broken.

“On the whole, the future of Zimbabwe is positively bright, with better prospects in store given the gradual improvement of the domestic investment environment,” he said.