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Belarus and Zimbabwe discuss cooperation prospects in defence sphere

A delegation of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces visited Belarus this week amid media reports of possible high-level military equipment supply agreements between the Russian allies.

Meanwhile, a visit of Belarusian Army General Viktor Sheiman to Zimbabwe this week has sparked speculation and concern in the southern African country about the true motives behind the visit, NewsDay reports.

On 30 October, the Belarusian general was pictured shaking hands with President Emmerson Mnangagwa at the presidential palace in the capital of Zimbabwe, Harare. Zimbabwe foreign affairs minister Frederick Shava said:

“We have embassies in each other’s countries. They are here to follow up on the deals signed by the heads of State (Mnangagwa and Belarus president Alexander Lukashenko) in January especially in agriculture. They have good dairy technologies and our dairy farms can benefit from them.”

During a visit to the South African country in 2018, Sheiman claimed to have come to negotiate mining deals on behalf of the Belarusian government, but it emerged that the deals were in fact personal.

The Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) revealed that Zim Goldfields is secretly owned by Sheiman’s son Sergei and Belarusian businessman Alexander Zingman, with the Belarusian government having no stake in it. Sheiman is a close associate of Belarusian leader Lukashenko, who is also a close associate of Mnangagwa. NewsDay nespaper wrote:

 “Leaked documents from the Pandora Papers revealed that Sheiman and his family had secretly owned an offshore company involved in dealings with a Zimbabwean State-owned mining company.”

The EU and the USA imposed sanctions against Sheiman for his role in alleged human rights violations and the disappearance of Lukashenko’s critics during his tenure as Prosecutor General of Belarus in 2004.

Meanwhile, according to the Belarusian news agency BelTA, a delegation from the Zimbabwe Defence Forces was in Minsk on 2 November to discuss “promising areas of future cooperation.” The Central House of Officers of the Armed Forces of Belarus hosted a conference dedicated to the development of military contacts between Belarus and Zimbabwe.

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