Elita Chikwati Senior Reporter
Zimbabwe yesterday received personal protective equipment and 8 tonnes of medical items from Russia to fight Covid-19, and the two countries agreed to collaborate in research, science and technology to find tangible solutions to battle the global pandemic.
Russian Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Nikolai Krasilnikov yesterday handed over the PPEs and medical items to Government representatives, Health and Child Care Deputy Minister Dr John Mangwiro and Foreign Affairs and International Trade Deputy Minister, David Musabayana.
Zimbabwe is in the first group of African countries to receive Covid-19 relief from Russia, which has been supporting Zimbabwe for some time now, including after the Cyclone Idai disaster.
Ambassador Krasilnikov appreciated the organised and effective measures being undertaken by Zimbabwe in the battle to curb the rapid spread of Covid-19.
He said the goods received yesterday were aimed at boosting Zimbabwe’s capacity to fight Covid-19.
“This is not the end of the story. We know that Zimbabwe has a great potential in this field of science and technology so together with our Zimbabwean counterparts, we are working out on launching modalities to start practical cooperation in the field of medicine and pharmaceuticals to make an input into the global efforts to curb the pandemic,” he said.
“This work has been done to implement the decision of the Russia–Africa Economic Forum and Summit last year to implement the highest level agreements between President Putin and President Mnangagwa and to implement the decision of the inter-governmental commission on economic, scientific and technical cooperation.
“We have got wonderful prospects ahead of us and we are ready to walk along this road together with our Zimbabwean friends to join all our efforts to find together tangible solution to the problems caused by the pandemic.”
Ambassador Krasilnikov dismissed reports that Zimbabwe was unstable. He said the country was peaceful and stable, adding there was no crisis.
“Zimbabwe is peaceful, stable and a very strong country. We highly appreciate the measures being undertaken by Government under the leadership of His Excellency the President Cde Mnangagwa to curb the pandemic
and provide health care for the people to safeguard and protect the health of Zimbabwe population in this critical moment,” he said.
Deputy Minister Dr Mangwiro thanked the gesture shown by President Putin and the people of Russia.
He said it was important that while Russia was also affected by the pandemic, it was assisting other countries like Zimbabwe.
“The Russian people have found themselves leaning with us, giving us help while they are also fighting the pandemic themselves. As a people, we are appreciative because a brother who stands with you when things are tough is a brother indeed,” said Dr Mangwiro.
“Thank you for giving us the tools and instruments to fight this deadly disease. Transmission of Covid-19 is now more local. We are fighting but the PPEs are difficult to come by and here you brought a lot of it. This gives us confidence that we can fight and always have a friend indeed. Cooperating in terms of science and technology and pharmaceuticals is welcome and that is the direction we would like to move also.
“We want to become a place where we are able to manufacture medicines locally. The invitation is welcome and I am sure His Excellency President Mnangagwa will be happy. We need to expand our specialists, even medicines and volumes and quality through your guidance.”
Deputy Minister Musabayana said Zimbabwe wants to collaborate with Russia, adding that President Putin had been “very responsive of our requests”.
“The two countries have demonstrated serious commitment to and have been pursuing robust economic engagements in all sectors in particular mining. This mutually shared desire to enhance mutual cooperation will be instrumental and supportive of Zimbabwe’s Vision 2030 of attaining an Upper Middle Income economy.
“Such collaboration between our two countries at the multilateral level where the Russian Federation continues to show leadership and defence of multilateralism and extending support and solidarity with countries like Zimbabwe in the face of unjust economic sanctions imposed by some Western countries,” he said.
Deputy Minister Musabayana also underscored that Zimbabwe was a peaceful country and was implementing reforms that would transform the nation.