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Faith Nyasuguta

This week, Zimbabwe received a significant donation from Russia, consisting of 25,000 tons of grain and 23,000 tons of fertilizer. 

President Emmerson Mnangagwa expressed gratitude for the assistance, highlighting its crucial role in mitigating the effects of the El Nino-induced drought that has severely impacted crop yields across Southern Africa. 

Mnangagwa also emphasized the enduring solidarity between Zimbabwe and Russia, particularly in the face of longstanding Western sanctions, which have contributed to the country’s economic challenges.

The donation comes at a time when Zimbabwe continues to grapple with targeted sanctions imposed by Western powers, initially in response to allegations of election rigging and human rights abuses. While the United States recently lifted sanctions on most Zimbabweans, certain individuals, including Mnangagwa, remain subject to restrictions. 

In contrast, Russia faces its own set of sanctions following its military intervention in Ukraine. Despite these challenges, Mnangagwa reaffirmed the importance of diplomatic dialogue and cooperation between nations affected by sanctions.

Russian Ambassador Nikolai Krasilnikov emphasised the significance of the donated fertilizers in bolstering Zimbabwe’s agricultural production. However, concerns have been raised regarding the effectiveness of the fertilizers in the current growing season, given the prolonged drought conditions that have already devastated crops. 

Despite these challenges, Zimbabwe maintains a steadfast alignment with Russia in its foreign policy approach, as evidenced by the cordial relations between the two nations.

Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa /Bloomberg/

While some observers have questioned the timing and motives behind Russia’s donations, others view it as a manifestation of Zimbabwe’s consistent support for Russia on the international stage. 

Alexander Rusero, an international relations professor, emphasized Zimbabwe’s unwavering stance in aligning with Russia, characterizing the donation as a fulfillment of longstanding pledges made between the two countries.

In a separate development, Zimbabwe’s electoral commission dispatched a delegation to Moscow to observe the Russian elections, which saw President Vladimir Putin secure another six-year term. 

Despite criticism of Zimbabwe’s own electoral processes in the past, commission chair Priscilla Chigumba commended the conduct of the Russian elections, describing them as a testament to a mature democracy. However, her remarks drew scrutiny and condemnation within Zimbabwe, particularly in light of the contentious 2023 elections, which were marred by irregularities and delays.

While the assistance to Zimbabwe is welcomed, it also stresses the need for Zimbabwe to address its own internal challenges and uphold democratic principles to ensure credibility and transparency in future elections.


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Faith Nyasuguta

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