Africa Moyo-Deputy News Editor
The presence of France’s Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Laurent Chevallier at yesterday’s commissioning of Phase 1 of the US$13 million Seed Co maize conditioning plant indicates the continued acceptance of the Second Republic by countries that previously cut ties with Harare, President Mnangagwa said.
Since coming into office in November 2017, President Mnangagwa deliberately embarked on an engagement and re-engagement drive to mend relations with all countries that had shut their doors on Zimbabwe while striving to maintain good relations with those that have stood with Harare during difficult times.
And after Brexit, Paris feels less constrained to pursue an independent and more accommodating stance on Zimbabwe
President Mnangagwa yesterday commended the French Government for supporting the Zimbabwean economy, adding that Harare was committed to deepen the long-standing fraternal relations with Paris.
“We have seen here His Excellency, the French Ambassador (Mr Chevallier); we rarely have European ambassadors attending our programmes,” said the President.
“This speaks to the continuous acceptance of the Second Republic internationally. At the time of our independence, France came to join us and supported this country at independence in various sectors (such as) agriculture, defence and security.
“We would wish that relationship be restored, strengthened and broadened. We, therefore, stand ready to accept more French companies. Above that, we seek cooperation with the rest of the world under our Foreign Policy of engagement and re-engagement; engagement with those who would want to engage with us and re-engagement with those who have disengaged, that is the Second Republic’s policy.”
President Mnangagwa thanked the French government for the support that it continues to render to Zimbabwe’s economy.
Seed Co’s maize conditioning plant was made possible through a loan facility from a French company, Proparco, which focuses on financing private sector development.
The Limagrain Group, an international agri-business based in France, is Seed Co’s major shareholder.
Limagrain operates as a cooperative and was founded and is directed by farmers.
They have, over the years, grown to become the largest seed company in Europe, specialising in vegetables, field crops and cereal products.
Limagrain’s vegetable seed division is the second largest company in the industry.
Other top French companies operating in Zimbabwe include global fuel giant Total, Saint-Gobain Construction Products that commissioned a US$1 million Weber plant for tile adhesives in Harare’s Msasa industrial area last year and the Lesaffre Group that acquired Anchor Yeast Private Limited in 2016.
As the engagement and reengagement drive continues, President Mnangagwa has been invited to attend the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP26, which is scheduled for the city of Glasgow, Scotland.
The President is expected to take advantage of the conference to engage a number of leaders and investors, informing them of the economic and political reforms that have been adopted in Zimbabwe since 2017.