PRESIDENT Mnangagwa’s engagement and re-engagement drive is bearing fruit after France yesterday set in motion, moves to upgrade the Great Zimbabwe monument in Masvingo and the National Archives of Zimbabwe (NAZ) in Harare.
In a sign of warming bilateral relations, France will collaborate with Zimbabwe on refurbishing facilities at Great Zimbabwe while NAZ will be digitised to preserve archival material.
This development will not affect the iconic Great Zimbabwe heritage site, but will focus on walls that require restoration, fencing, accommodation and ablution facilities among others.
Speaking at the presentation of findings of a feasibility study on the exercise in Harare yesterday, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage, Mr Aaron Nhepera said the development of Great Zimbabwe demonstrated excellent relations existing between Zimbabwe and France.
“It is also in line with the vision of the Second Republic that seeks to engage and re-engage with the wider global communities to ensure that Zimbabwe takes advantage of benefits that accrue from mutual cooperation with other states and development cooperating partners such as the French Development Agency (AFD),” he said.
The event was attended by traditional leaders from Masvingo among them chief Murinye, Chief Mugabe and Chief Nemanwa.
AFD and National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe (NMMZ) officials and a representative from the Southern Africa regional office of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) also attended the workshop.
“For the record, the partnership that we are witnessing in motion today is between the French Embassy, through AFD and the Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage, through the NMMZ, the premier cultural heritage management institution in the country.
“The partnership seeks to ensure that our premier national and world heritage site of Great Zimbabwe is developed to expected standards that benefit its local and international significance,” said Mr Nhepera.
French Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Laurent Chevallier said the project was fully in line with the common will of Zimbabwe and French authorities to develop and strengthen their relationship in all areas.
“We are very happy to be here today on the opening of the important workshop on the development of Great Zimbabwe World Heritage site carried out by the NMMZ in collaboration with AFD.
“The cooperation is a major part of the French action in Zimbabwe for many years especially in terms of the protection and promotion of cultural heritage. To this end, the French Embassy relies on its network of French alliances in Harare, Bulawayo and Victoria Falls and can also count on the French expertise particularly valued in the promotion and preservation of national archives,” said Ambassador Chevallier.
NMMZ director Dr Godfrey Mahachi said: “The project being carried will only enhance the product. It will enhance the quality of the Great Zimbabwe, but it will not result in us reviewing fees.
“We are not selling Great Zimbabwe. It is about our national identity, it is about our cultural achievements which we must all share.
“We are looking for visitor infrastructure. We are looking at how we can provide appropriate facilities.”