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Harare and Belarus capital, Minsk to be twin cities, Mafume signs agreement

Harare Mayor Jacob Mafume on Tuesday signed an understanding form to later sign a twinning agreement with the capital city of Belarus, Minsk.

Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko is in Zimbabwe for a state visit and is being hosted by President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

The two countries have since signed eight bilateral agreements in the areas of education, agriculture and economic co- operation at a ceremony that was presided over by Mnangagwa and Lukashenko at State House in Harare.

While representing the City of Minsk, Vladimir Kukharev, the Chairman of the Minsk City Executive Committee signed an agreement with Mafume, meant to “develop international, economic and cultural ties and attaching great importance to strengthening trust, mutual understanding and friendship”.

Read the agreement: “In order to develop international, economic and cultural ties and attaching great importance to strengthening trust, mutual understanding and friendship, the City of Minsk, hereby legally represented by Vladimir Kukharev, the Chairman of the Minsk City Executive Committee, and the City of Harare, hereby legally represented by Jacob Mafume, the Mayor of Harare (hereinafter referred to as the “Parties”), have signed this Agreement on twinning relations between the City of Minsk (Republic of Belarus) and the City of Harare (Republic of Zimbabwe).

“The Parties, within its competence, on the basis of equality and partnership under legislation of the Republic of Belarus and the Republic of Zimbabwe, will contribute to: – Establishment and expansion of bilateral economic, scientific and technological, and cultural cooperation; – Development of investment and innovative activities; -Cooperation in the field of healthcare, education, culture and sports; Exchange of information on city development and experience in organizing local governance; – Other forms of interaction, agreed between the Parties.

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“The Agreement is open-ended and enters into force upon being signed. The Agreement shall terminate within one month of the day of receipt of a letter of notification by one of the Parties. The Agreement is concluded in two copies of equal legal force in Russian and English languages.”

Meanwhile the relationship between Lukashenko and Mnangagwa has been the source of great scandal.

Local Government Minister July Moyo, appointed by Mnangagwa, is accused of procuring fire tenders from Belarus under corrupt circumstances and without the consent of local councils around the country.

Moyo diverted more than US$55 million of devolution funds to buying fire trucks from Belarus for 89 councils allegedly at an inflated cost in more “rampant corruption”.

“The funds to procure the equipment will be deducted from the 2022 Devolution allocations and will be done over a period of twelve months starting March 2022. the cost of each fire tender is USD464,296,” Moyo told councils.

“It is therefore advisable for local authorities to reprioritise the Devolution funds to accommodate the cost of the fire tenders.”

Mnangagwa’s Belarusian crony Alexander Zingman, who runs Aftrade DMCC was awarded the multimillion dollar deal without going to tender.

In 2021, the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), a consortium of investigative journalists, unveiled links between Lukashenko’s family and a gold mining venture in Zimbabwe.