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Russia and Zimbabwe Relations Remain Work-in-Progress—Sango – Business Post Nigeria

By Kestér Kenn Klomegâh

As popularly known to African leaders, Russia has thousands of decade-old undelivered pledges and several bilateral agreements signed with individual countries, yet to be implemented, in the continent.

In addition, during the previous years, there has been an unprecedented huge number of “working visits” by state officials both ways, to Africa and to the Russian Federation.

In an authoritative policy report presented last November titled Situation Analytical Report and prepared by 25 Russian policy experts, it was noted that Russia’s Africa policy is roughly divided into four periods, previously after the Soviet’s collapse in 1991. After the first summit held in October 2019, Russia’s relations with Africa have entered its fifth stage.

According to that report, “the intensification of political contacts is only with a focus on making them demonstrative.” Russia’s foreign policy strategy regarding Africa needs to spell out and incorporate the development needs of African countries. The number of high-level meetings has increased but the share of substantive issues on the agenda remains small. There are few definitive results from such meetings. Next, there has been a lack of coordination among various state and para-state institutions working with Africa.

Despite the above objective criticisms or better still the research findings, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s trip to four African countries on 24-27 July still has considerable geopolitical significance and some implications. The four African countries on his travel agenda were Egypt, Ethiopia, Uganda and the Republic of the Congo.

In a pre-departure interview with local Russian media, Lavrov shared reflections on the prospects for Russia-African relations within the context of the current geopolitical and economic changes, fearing isolation with tough sanctions after Russia’s February 24 “special military operation” in Ukraine.

He unreservedly used, at least, the media platform to clarify Russia’s view of the war and attract allies outside the West, and rejected the West’s accusations that Russia is responsible for the current global economic crisis and instability.

Reports said African countries are among those most affected by the ripples of the war. There are, however, other natural causes such as long seasonal droughts that complicated the situation in Africa.

Lavrov reiterated an assurance that Russian grain “commitments” would be fulfilled and offered nothing more to cushion the effects of the cost-of-living crisis. In a contrast, at least, the United States offered a $1.3 billion package to help tackle hunger in Africa’s Horn.

It is a historical fact that Russia’s ties with Africa declined with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. The official transcripts made available after Lavrov’s meetings in Egypt offered little, much has already been said about developments in the North African and Arab world, especially those including Libya, Syria and Yemen, as well as the Palestinian-Israeli conflicts.

With the geographical location of Egypt, Lavrov’s visit has tacit implications. It followed US President Joe Biden’s first visit to the Middle East, during which he visited Israel, the Palestinian territories and Saudi Arabia. Biden also took part in a summit of the six member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council, in addition to Egypt, Jordan and Iraq.

Lavrov’s efforts toward building non-Western ties at this crucial time are highly commendable, especially with the Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit and representatives from the organization’s 22 member states. Egypt has significant strategic and economic ties with Russia. There are two major projects namely the building of nuclear plants, the contract signed back in 2015 and the construction of an industrial zone has been on the planning table these several years.

In the aftermath of the Soviet Union, Russia continues efforts in search of possible collaboration and opportunities for cooperation in the past years.

For the first time in the Republic of Congo, Lavrov delivered a special message from President Vladimir Putin to the Congolese President Denis Sassou Nguesso, at his residence in Oyo, a town 400 kilometres north of the capital, Brazzaville. Kremlin records show that Sassou-Nguesso, who has been in power since 1979, last visited Moscow in May 2019 and before that in November 2012.

The Congolese leader during his visit apparently asked for Russia’s greater engagement and assistance in bringing total peace and stability in Central Africa comprising the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Central African Republic, Cameroon and Chad.

This presents a considerable interest especially its “military-technical cooperation” to further crash French domination similar to the Republic of Mali in West Africa.

Interviews made by this author confirmed that Russia would send more military experts from Wagner Group to DRC through the Central African Republic.

An insider at the Congo’s Foreign Affairs Ministry confirmed the special message relates to an official invitation for Congolese President Sassou-Nguesso to visit Moscow.

Understanding the political developments and much talked about transition (better to describe it as hereditary succession) of the regime from President Yoweri Museveni to his son, Muhoozi Kainerugaba, unquestionably brings Lavrov to Uganda. For Museveni, drawing closer to Russia sends a critical message about the motives for relations between Uganda and Russia.

With Foreign Minister of Uganda Jeje Odongo in the city of Entebbe, Lavrov in the same traditional rhetoric mentioned “the implementation of joint projects in oil refining, energy, transport infrastructure and agricultural production.”

It was decided to focus on practical efforts to move the above areas of focus forward in the course of an Intergovernmental Russian-Ugandan Commission on Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation meeting in October.

Interesting to recall that during President Vladimir Putin’s meeting on December 11, 2012, President Museveni said “Moscow is a kind of Mecca for free movements in Africa. Muslims visit Mecca as a religious ritual, while Moscow is a kind of centre that helps various liberation movements.” Later in October 2019, Museveni expressed appreciation for the Africa–Russia meeting.

“It is good to say at this meeting a few areas which we could look at. Number one is defence and security. We have supported building an army by buying good Russian equipment, aircraft, tanks, and so on. We want to buy more. We have been paying cash in the past, cash, cash, cash. What I propose is that you supply and we pay. That would be some sort of supply that would make us build faster because now we pay cash like for this Sukhoi jet, we paid cash,” Museveni said during the conversation told Putin.

Lavrov displays his passion for historical references. In many of his speeches during the four-nation tour, he repeatedly stressed that it’s imperative for African leaders to support its “special military operation” in Ukraine, repeated all the Soviet assistance to Africa and the perspectives for the future of Russia-African relations. But most essentially, Lavrov has to understand that little has been achieved, both the long period before and after the first Russia-Africa summit held in October 2019.

In Ethiopia where the African Union headquarters is located, and representatives of African countries are based, Russia is vying to normalize an international order and frame-shape its geostrategic posture in this capital city.

Whether 25 of Africa’s 54 states abstained or did not vote to condemn Russia at the UN General Assembly resolution in March, Africans are overwhelmingly pragmatic. Most of them displayed neutrality, creating the basis for accepting whatever investment and development finance from the United States, the European Union, the Asian region, Russia and China, from every other region of the world.

For external players including Russia eyeing Africa, Museveni’s thought-provoking explanation of “neutrality” during the media conference re-emphasizes the best classic diplomacy of pragmatism. “We don’t believe in being enemies of somebody’s enemy,” Museveni told Lavrov. Uganda is set to assume the chairmanship of the Non-Aligned Movement, a global body created during the Cold War by countries that wanted to escape being drifted into the geopolitical and ideological rivalry between Western powers and Communists.

Lavrov, however, informed about broadening African issues in the “new version of Russia’s Foreign Policy Concept against the background of the waning of the Western direction” and his will objectively increase the share of the African direction in the work of the Foreign Ministry. Relating to the next summit, scheduled for mid-2023, “a serious package of documents that will contain almost all significant agreements” is being prepared, he said.

Lavrov with his Ethiopian counterpart Demeke Mekonnnen and the African Union leadership in Addis Ababa have agreed on additional documents paving the way to a more efficient dialogue in the area of defence sales and contracts.

Still on Ethiopia, Russia’s state-run nuclear corporation Rosatom and Ethiopia’s Ministry of Innovation and Technology signed a roadmap on cooperation in projects to build a nuclear power plant and a nuclear research centre in the republic. In addition, other bilateral issues, including joint energy and infrastructure projects, and education were discussed.

“We have good traditions in the sphere of military and technical cooperation. Today, we confirmed our readiness to implement new plans in this sphere, including taking into account the interests of our Ethiopian friends in ensuring their defensive ability,” the Russian top diplomat said.

“Russia is ready to continue providing assistance to Ethiopia in training its domestic specialists in various spheres,” he added and finally explaining that Moscow was ready to develop both bilateral humanitarian and cultural contacts and cooperation in the sphere of education with Addis Ababa.

According to Lavrov, Russia has had long-standing good relations with Africa since the days of the Soviet Union which pioneered movements that culminated in decolonization. It provided assistance to the national liberation movements and then to the restoration of independent states and the rise of their economies in Africa. An undeniable fact is that many external players have also had long-term relations and continue bolstering political, economic and social ties in the continent.

In his Op-Ed article, Lavrov argues: “We have been rebuilding our positions for many years now. The Africans are reciprocating. They are interested in having us. It is good to see that our African friends have a similar understanding with Russia.” The point is that Moscow is desirous to widen and deepen its presence in the continent. On the other hand, the Maghreb and African countries are, in terms of reciprocity, keen to strengthen relations with Moscow, but will avoid taking sides in the Russia-Ukraine crisis.

Lavrov has successfully ended his meetings and talks in Africa. Now, the basic significant issue in its current relations is still the fact that Russia has thousands of decade-old undelivered pledges and several bilateral agreements signed with individual countries in the continent, while in the previous years there has been an unprecedented huge number of “working visits” to Africa. The development of a comprehensive partnership with African countries remains among the top priorities of Russia’s foreign policy, Moscow is open to its further build-up, Lavrov said in an Op-Ed article for the African media, and originally published on the ministry’s website.

Steven Gruzd, the Head of the Russia-Africa Programme at the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA), told Fox News Digital. “Africa’s leaders must realize that they might be used as props in the grand geopolitical theatre being led by these big powers.” Moscow opposes a unipolar world based only on Western interests and pursues Africa to condemn sanctions imposed against Russia.

He believes that this diplomatic jockeying risks casting African countries “as pawns in a grand chess game” and African countries have to steer clear of taking sides. However, many African countries are wary of losing Western aid and trade ties should they go all in with the Kremlin.

“They need to be very clear about the risks and rewards of these meetings”, added Gruzd. “Most do not want to have to choose between Russia and the West and will try to maintain relationships with both sides. This is definitely a Russian move to show they are not isolated, and what better way to do it than Minister Lavrov smiling and shaking hands with African presidents and foreign ministers?”

In the context of rebuilding post-Soviet relations and now attempting at creating a new model of the global order which it hopes to lead after exiting from international organizations. In order to head an emerging global order, Russia needs to be more open, and make more inroads into the civil society, rather than close (isolate) itself from “non-Western friends” during this fast-changing crucial period – in Asia, Africa and Latin America. For instance, Africa is ready as it holds huge opportunities in various sectors for reliable, genuine and committed investors. It offers a very profitable investment destination.

Despite criticisms, China has built an exemplary distinctive economic power in Africa. Besides China, Africa is largely benefitting from the European Union and Western aid flows, and economic and trade ties. Russia plays very little role in Africa’s infrastructure, agriculture and industry, and makes little effort in leveraging the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). Our monitoring shows that the Russian business community hardly pays attention to the significance of AfCFTA which provides a unique and valuable platform for businesses to access an integrated African market of over 1.3 billion people.

Substantively, Russia brings little to the continent, especially in the economic sectors that badly need investment. Of course, Russia basks in restoring and regaining part of its Soviet-era influence, but has problems with planning and tackling its set tasks, a lack of confidence in fulfilling its policy targets. The most important aspect is how to make strategic efforts more practical, more consistent and more effective with African countries. Without these fundamental factors, it would therefore be an illusionary step to partnering with Africa.

Some policy experts have classified three directions for external partners dealing with Africa: (i) active engagement, (ii) sitting on the sideline and observing, and (iii) being a passive player. From all indications, African leaders have political sympathy and most often express either support or a neutral position for Russia. But at the same time, African leaders are very pragmatic, indiscriminately dealing with external players with adequate funds to invest in different economic sectors. Africa is in a globalized world. It is, generally, beneficial for Africa as it could take whatever is offered from either East or West, North or South.

In stark contrast to key global players for instance the United States, China and the European Union and many others, Russia has limitations. For Russia to regain a part of its Soviet-era influence, it has to address its own policy approach, this time shifting towards new paradigms – to implement some of the decade-old pledges and promises, and those bilateral agreements; secondly to promote development-oriented policies and how to make these strategic efforts more practical, more consistent, more effective and most admirably result-oriented with African countries.

Perhaps, reviewing or revisiting the school geography, Russia is not only by far the world’s largest country, surface-wise, but arguably also by far the wealthiest in terms of natural resources. Thus, the question is – what else could be Russia’s standing blocks in building its economic power, by investing in the needed sustainable development (not humanitarian aid), in Africa?

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Zimbabwe’s biggest retail chain hints to unbundling its units – The Zimbabwe Mail

HARARE – OK Zimbabwe Limited has issued a cautionary statement notifying its shareholders of a potential restructuring of the company that may result in its unbundling into a group of companies.

In the statement issued by Group Company Secretary Margaret Munyuru on 5 August 2022, OK Zimbabwe Limited said ongoing discussions could have a material impact on its securities prices.

It read: The Directors of OK Zimbabwe Limited (“OKZL or the Company”) wish to advise all shareholders and the investing public that the Company is engaged in discussions that involve a potential transaction that may have a material impact on the value of the Company’s shares.

The transaction involves the restructuring of the company and its unbundling into a group of companies.

Further details of the transaction will be provided once discussions have been finalized.

Shareholders are therefore advised to exercise caution and to consult their professional advisors when trading in the Company’s shares until the finalization of the aforementioned matter.

The Company’s shareholders and members of the public will be updated on the matter in accordance with the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange Listing Rules.

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UK-based Zimbabwean lawyer appointed magistrate – The Zimbabwe Mail

Codilia Gapare

UNITED Kingdom based Zimbabwean, Codilia Gapare has been appointed to the Justice of the Peace of England and Wales with effect from July 28.

The Justice of the Peace is a local magistrate empowered chiefly to administer criminal or civil justice cases.

A justice of the peace may, in some jurisdictions, also administer oaths and perform marriages.

Speaking to The Zimbabwe Mail, Gapare said: The appointment means so much to me. I grew up working in only my perceived limitation, being able to go beyond those limitations is self-actualisation to me.

“This responsibility is not something that I am taking lightly. I have been called to serve and I will do that to the best of my ability.

Gapare is also an entrepreneur having invented the first ever false lashes range for chemotherapy patients and those suffering hair loss.

She is the founder and chief executive officer of of C-Lash

Codilia bought lots of sets of false eyelashes and set about modifying them on her kitchen table. She realised she needed a thin band to go across the eyelid that blended with the skin and really strong glue to make the lashes stay on but was hyper-allergenic and skin-friendly because cancer treatment makes the skin super sensitive.

Researching how to make prototypes on the internet, she found most companies were based in Asia and she wanted the lashes to be made in the UK. Also she didn’t want to go to an existing lash brand as she was worried that, having not done this themselves before, they would tell her it was not possible.

So, she boldly tried something completely different. She took the eyelashes she’d created to an engineering company that normally makes car parts and asked them to make her prototype.

“Sometimes it’s better to come from a completely different point of view,” she explained. “They said we don’t know anything about lashes and I said that’s fine, I just want you to take what’s in my head and reproduce it without telling me it can’t be done. And I said please don’t discourage me, because I will get discouraged and I don’t want to.”

Codilia Gapare came up with the idea of C-Lash false eyelashes for chemo patients after losing her eyelashes to cancer treatment
Codilia Gapare came up with the idea of C-Lash false eyelashes after losing her eyelashes to cancer treatment

She added: “I didn’t want to create a new face, I wanted my old face back so I wanted something natural-looking that would mirror my own lashes. I talked to people and realised I wasn’t the only one having this problem.”

Once she had her prototypes, Codilia took them to every chemist and supermarket she could think of. Eventually Boots said they were interested in taking it on but that it needed to be trademarked or patented.

“I looked this up online and realised it would cost between £15,000 and £22,000 to do this – I didn’t have that money,” she said.

“So I sat down for six weeks printing off everything I could find on registration of design and I put it all together myself. It saved me £15,000.”

Next Codilia pitched her product, now called C-Lash, against 36 other companies in front of a panel of Dragon’s Den-style judges at The Business Show in London. She came first, winning the Innovator of the Show award.

As a result, she got a partnership with a brand called Eylure, with whom she spent the next couple of years working on making sure the product was safe for people who were immuno-compromised.

Eylure C-Lash false eyelashes on sale in Walgreens USA
Eylure C-Lash false eyelashes on sale in Walgreens in America

C-Lash was finally launched at the beginning of 2019, some four years after Codilia had first come up with the idea. The lashes are now sold in Boots, and Walgreens in the USA, grossing just under £500k in the first trading year.

In the final quarter of 2020, they started being sold in Australia and are now available across Scandinavia too. Her lashes are recommended in hospitals and in cancer treatment centres and the brand is now worth around £1.2 million gross worldwide.

“I could never have imagined it would have gone the way it has,” she said. “I’d never run a company in my life, I didn’t know what I was doing.”

C-Lash wins Allure magazine's Best Beauty Breakthrough award for 2020
C-Lash wins Allure magazine’s Best of Beauty Breakthrough award for 2020

She added: “My business adviser was Google. I did everything backwards. It doesn’t make sense that a girl like me who was always bottom of the class, who grew up on a farm in Zimbabwe, managed to do as much as I have.

“I’d always been at the bottom of my class. I never knew why I couldn’t get things when I was able to retain information. From the age of eight, I’d decided I wanted to be a lawyer after watching an Australian series on TV. When I came to England in 2004, at the age of 26, I was diagnosed as dyslexic but it didn’t stop me.”

Codilia says that if she could go back, she would have handled her diagnosis differently with her children.

Source: Agencies

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International Youth Day global snapshot: young… – Transparency International

Nazmus Sakib Bin Mustafa, who leads his local YES group, was 11 when he first realised he wanted to make a difference. “I saw a leaflet at school from Transparency International Bangladesh, explaining how much money was being used up by corruption in Bangladesh. It was enough to run more than 10,000 schools and help thousands of vulnerable people. I was shocked and knew I wanted to do something to stop corruption.”

He joined his local YES group as soon as he turned 15 – the minimum age one must be to join. Now, 21 years old, Nazmus is leading anti-corruption efforts in his community.

In addition to investigating public programmes, Nazmus and his fellow YES members also run information fairs about government services and provide pop-up advice desks to guide people through filling out requests for information. They check official government web portals and push for out-of-date information to be corrected.

YES groups around the country have used a variety of creative approaches to get their message across – from cartoon exhibitions to cycle rallies. COVID-19 pushed them to shift online, but they have since continued work on the ground.

When YES members reach the age limit of 27, they can join the Young Professionals Against Corruption network. When they turn 30, they can also join the Committees of Concerned Citizens or Active Citizens Group, which are also supported by Transparency International Bangladesh. This way they can continue pushing for integrity in their workplaces and communities.

“In my experience,” Nazmus says, “young people everywhere think in the same way. They dream of making a corruption-free society, a corruption-free country, a corruption-free world.”

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