Harare - Zimbabwe’s vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa, on a visit to Belarus, has described the European country as “developed, orderly and clean” and its people as “loving”, the state broadcaster said on Monday.
Critics have called landlocked Belarus “Europe's last dictatorship” on account of the authoritarian rule of long-time president, Alexander Lukashenko.
Mnangagwa, who is accompanied by Zimbabwe’s central bank governor John Mangudya and other officials, is in Minsk to drum up financial support for President Robert Mugabe’s cash-strapped government.
According to a report on the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) website, Mnangagwa and Belarusian premier, Andrei Kobyakov earlier on Monday signed a Memorandum of Agreement worth $ 150m. The deal is said to cover support for road and dam construction, as well as mining and agriculture.
The ZBC quoted Kobyakov as saying his country was “excited to have found a reliable trade partner”.
Like Mugabe, Lukashenko and his close allies are subject to targeted sanctions by the US and the EU for alleged rights abuses.
“Vice president Mnangagwa said despite sanctions and the western media being awash with bad stories and perception about Belarus, Zimbabwe will be a good ambassador of the country and will tell the true story,” the ZBC said.
The upbeat reports of Mnangagwa’s trip to Belarus in Zimbabwean state media have, however, been greeted with scepticism by some locals.
Oppostion Movement for Democratic Change politician David Coltart described the trip as “another mirage”.
“What meaningful investment can we expect from a tin pot republic,” Coltart said in a tweet on Monday.