Referring to Putin as a senior brother, Mnangagwa said he particularly looked up to the Russian leader for economic direction.
“Your Excellency, I would wish that we now attend to deepening economic cooperation between our countries, and our country is developing – it is a third-world country – so that you, as a senior brother, can hold my hand as I try to develop Zimbabwe,” he said.
The Zimbabwean leader is currently in Eastern Europe for an official visit scheduled to end at the World Economic Forum later this month in Davos, Switzerland.
As at Tuesday (January 15) the president and his delegation were in Russia where he met with his counterpart Vladimir Putin.
Both leaders according to the Kremlin – Russia presidency, held discussions aimed at promoting bilateral relations and current international and regional issues.
In the Zimbabwean leader’s remarks as reported by the Kremlin, Mnangagwa stressed how far back relations between Zimbabwe and Russia stretched.
His request for economic cooperation fits squarely into the context of recent developments back home. Mnangagwa announced a fuel price hike before flying out to Europe.
A three-day social shutdown called by organized labour ends today. It has led to mass protests that have been severely clamped down by police in the two major capital of Harare and Bulawayo. The internet was also reportedly cut by authorities on Tuesday.
President of the Republic of Zimbabwe Emmerson Mnangagwa:
Thank you, Your Excellency, Mr President.
On my own behalf and on behalf of my delegation, we are extremely happy to be invited to visit the Russian Federation. And it is my first occasion to be here, and I feel greatly honoured by Your Excellency to allow me to visit you in this time of development and the challenges facing my country that I wish to discuss with Your Excellency.
There are two areas of significant importance for me to address, the historical and the political signs that there is a very long history of cooperation between Zimbabwe and your great country, from the time of armed struggle, when most of my officers and military trained here in the past, and you supported us materially in our liberation struggle.
That political history transcended until we got our independence and has continued, but today, Your Excellency, I would wish that we now attend to deepening economic cooperation between our countries, and our country is developing – it is a third-world country – so that you, as a senior brother, can hold my hand as I try to develop Zimbabwe.
Your Excellency, when we last met in Johannesburg at the BRICS summit, we did not have much opportunity to exchange views on our respective relations, but I believe this is an opportunity that is given to me to articulate the challenges that my country is facing. Zimbabwe has been suffering from sanctions imposed by the West for nearly two decades, and we are now doing our best to reengage after the new disposition has come into effect; and during our days of isolation, you stood by us.
Your Excellency, I have come with many issues I would want to discuss with Your Excellency, in particular, in the area of economic cooperation, because the area of political relations is solid and is very historical.
And I have a team of my officers here that I believe will be able to articulate the issues that I have brought for us to share.
Thank you, Your Excellency.
President of Russia Vladimir Putin:
Mr President, colleagues,
I am pleased to see you here in Moscow.
This is your first visit to our country. Zimbabwe is an important partner to Russia in Africa. We are very pleased to see you.
Most recently, you won a landslide election victory. The people of your country are expecting effective performance, that goes without saying.
For our part, we are ready to do our best to make sure that cooperation between our countries is beneficial for our nations and that it makes a significant and weighty contribution to implementing the plans and programmes that you have formulated for yourself and to achieving the goals that you have set for your country.
Welcome, Mr President.