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A gold mine and the key to all of Africa: why Zimbabwe, tired of the West, waits for Russian tourists and businessmen

Date: June 15, 2024 Time: 15:35:24

Such campaigns in Zimbabwe before the elections: politicians in cars. Nearby is Komsomolskaya Pravda special correspondent Dina Karpitskaya, who campaigns for Africa’s friendship with Russia.

PART 1 On the eve of the Russia-Africa summit in St. Petersburg, the KP special correspondent visited the three southernmost countries of the Black Continent: South Africa, Zimbabwe and Zambia. What about Russia? Are Russian tourists and businessmen welcome?

Correspondent Dina Karpitskaya in South Africa

Photo: Dina KARPITSKAYA

The airport in the capital of Zimbabwe, Harare, turned out to be not a shack at all, as it scared us, but modern, new, new. Inside stuffed wild animals, car rental offices, mobile operators. Civilization, we think…

View of downtown Harare. All the skyscrapers were built by the British colonialists. No new buildings have appeared in the last 40 years.

Photo: Dina KARPITSKAYA

Boom-boom! It was behind the airport that the pits and trenches began. Or rich villas or ramshackle houses. Or expensive jeeps or old jingle bells. And everything around is shrouded in red dust and flooded with the rays of the golden sun.

New airport in Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare

Photo: Dina KARPITSKAYA

– The Chinese built the airport for us, – boasts the driver, he is our guide to Harare Thomas. – We have a lot of Chinese here now. Business. There is a whole Chinatown.

China is actively developing the African market. In Harare, for example, there is already a whole Chinatown

Photo: Dina KARPITSKAYA

– What is it? – I scream in surprise when I see a Belarusian flag and an even row of tractors on a billboard by the road.

– Belarusians supply us with equipment. They also donated buses. Lukashenka came to us, she walked. He liked this.

Zimbabwe Honorary Consul in Saint Petersburg Nikolai Sobolev and President Emmerson Mnangagwa

Photo: Dina KARPITSKAYA

And Zimbabwe also has close relations with Russia, since the overthrow of the colonial government in the distant 1980s. We were also friends with the great and terrible Robert Mugabe, who ruled Zimbabwe for 40 years. And with the new government that came to power in 2017. Large Russian companies work here for the extraction of diamonds, gold and platinum. Zimbabwean students come to study with us. Well, students, even in space we have a joint project – the introduction of orbital technologies in agriculture and mining. The most important sectors of the Zimbabwean economy, which…

clearly

Photo: Dmitry POLUKHIN

MONEY CARTS

… entered the world’s textbooks under the heading “how not to do it.” Inflation here was prohibitive. In 2008, the price increase amounted to 231,000,000%. You can imagine? It is as if on January 1 a loaf of bread cost 1 ruble, and on December 31 – 2 million 310 thousand rubles.

“Oh, those were fun times,” recalls Vitaly, a Russian who has lived in Harare for 25 years. – They went to the store with boxes of money. When we went to rest, they brought a trailer with them. or two. In 2009, Zimbabwe’s 100 trillion dollar bill came out, can you imagine? Formally, all the inhabitants became not even billionaires, but sextillion (a sextillion is 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000).

Hyperinflationary banknotes now being sold as souvenirs 10,000,000 Zimbabwean dollar banknote

Photo: Dina KARPITSKAYA

Money was depreciating every hour! She got to the point that it was cheaper to heat stoves with bills than to buy firewood. People did just that, by the way. The country has even passed laws that prohibit the use of money for other purposes, such as toilet paper or napkins.

– Did you have bank cards?

– There were, but they were not used, because the state always subtracted zeros from the amounts, and it was difficult to trace. The whites even created their own banks: a house was rented that was full of money. And there was nothing in the stores. And despite the fact that Southern Rhodesia (as Zimbabwe was called in the colonial era) was actually the richest country! And not just for gold and diamonds. In 1975 it ranked third in the world in cotton production and second in wheat, corn and bean production. One Rhodesia could feed all of Africa. And all this economy after the 1980 revolution went to Mugabe.

Harar Market

Photo: Dina KARPITSKAYA

And the reason for the collapse of the economy was the land reform of the 2000s. Mugabe’s early years were going well. The white planters were left untouched, retaining their right to private property for 20 years. The standard of living in Zimbabwe was very high. Everyone loved the permanent leader of the nation. And then they began to take land and businesses from white people and give it to people close to power. And it seems that the process was inevitable, because 80% of the fertile and gold-bearing lands could not belong to 1% of the population, and not even only to whites. But they wanted the best, but it turned out… Crisis, unemployment and the most terrible inflation in the world…

Supermarket in Harare. Food prices are even higher than in Moscow.

Photo: Dina KARPITSKAYA

The people of Zimbabwe have been through a lot. And Mugabe, despite everything, remained in his chair until 2017. And he was not going to leave, although he was 93 years old. But they overthrew him.

Million dollar bills are now being sold as souvenirs.

In 2018, inflation in Zimbabwe amounted to 231,000,000 million% (photo from the Internet, search for the author)

Photo: Dina KARPITSKAYA

TIRED OF THE WEST

From the airport I went directly to the business conference “Russia – Zimbabwe”. In the hotel, just under the palm trees, people in jackets—bankers, lawyers from Russia—discussed business with local officials of all stripes, even ministers.

– I have an idea, – told KP Nikolai Sobolev, Zimbabwe’s honorary consul in St. Petersburg. – Make a Russian business center here. Africa has a free trade zone of 50 countries, including Zimbabwe. It could be the key to all of Africa.

Russia-Africa business conference. Russian businessmen give interviews to Zimbabwean journalists.

Photo: Dina KARPITSKAYA

– What about inflation? It’s not 231 million percent here anymore, but it’s still pretty big. Do not Scare? – I asked the assistant to the honorary consul for finance Denis Tukmakov.

– Yes, the local dollar is under pressure. But Zimbabwe has both the US dollar and the South African rand. There are plans to open branches of Russian banks here. Zimbabwe is under US and EU sanctions, just like we are, so there is understanding.

– There are a lot of Chinese, Americans, Europeans here. This indicates the interest of investors, adds lawyer Pavel Karpunin. – But the locals are tired of the West. Therefore, Russia is relevant.

And a member of the Russian delegation Dmitry Tsukanov – deputy. Financial Director of the Group of Highway Companies “ABZ-1”, he immediately got down to business.

– The roads here are patched. They need to build new ones. This is a great market! I have already told the Zimbabwean government about our technologies, they listened with great interest. We are entering here.

Russia-Africa business conference. In tropical landscapes it looked unusual

Photo: Dina KARPITSKAYA

IS THERE A TRAFFIC LIGHT AND 15 BENTLEYS IN THE CITY?

In the evening we all meet at the house of a Russian who lives in Harare. The fireplace was heated with heavy, dense African wood. We drank South African wine and talked about life in Zimbabwe.

– Blogger Ilya Varlamov (recognized as a foreign agent. – Author) made a film about Harare, there is so much nonsense. As if there is complete devastation here, there is only one traffic light for the whole city, Russian Zimbabweans complained. – And it is calmer and safer here than in prosperous South Africa. Our friend, an English millionaire, moved here from Cape Town. When street bandits attacked him there, he got into a car and drove to Zimbabwe.

Most of the buildings in Harare are from the colonial era.

Photo: Dina KARPITSKAYA

By the way, there is at least one traffic light here, but yes, the traffic is chaotic, to put it mildly. And traffic controllers – the level of “disco dancer”. What pirouettes were danced! Show.

– Here we are now in a town where people have 15 Bentleys and 2 Lamborghinis. And no one locks the house with a key at night, says the owner of the house, the gold miner Alexander. – Do you want me to show you our mine?

I was already afraid that now at night I would have to go God knows where through the Zimbabwean wells. But it turns out that Alexander has a 3D model of the underground property right in the next room, on the computer.

– Here such technologies! In a week, with the help of a special drone, they carried out a study of the area and a geological exploration. And for pennies! We have already made a profit, the plans are huge.

Alexander wants to do something like a McDonald’s with gold, selling a fast and efficient business model. And there is a lot of gold in Zimbabwe, a lot. And diamonds, and God knows what else.

– The land here is the main wealth. Agriculture is a gold mine, the businessmen argued. – The climate is very temperate, everything is growing by leaps and bounds – vegetables, fruits, tobacco, wheat. Three harvests a year. Three and and!!! But all these redistributions of power and property… It’s amazing how the richest country has become the poorest in the world. People are almost starving, although the money is under their feet.

The average salary in Zimbabwe is US$100-150 per month. It is difficult to live with this money.

Photo: Dina KARPITSKAYA

100 RUSSIAN

There are not many Russians living in Zimbabwe, maybe 100 people. They all know each other. And we expect friendship between our countries. And also the fact that the Russian government will support them, will establish ties. You don’t need money! Enough of agreements on state guarantees.

Harare abounds with dancing and fun day and night. And there’s some faith in the future in the air, despite the fact that after sunset it gets dark here (not all goes smoothly with electricity). Probably, it is given by the local red earth, full of riches.

The KP correspondent gave Africans souvenirs from Russia (matryoshka dolls, sweets with vodka)

Photo: Dina KARPITSKAYA

To be continue.

READ ALSO

“Russian brothers, where are you?”: how Africa becomes a powerful ally of Russia and why ours are so welcome here

A true battle for the heart of Africa has developed in the world. Why: our special correspondent Dina Karpitskaya found out (details)

* This website provides news content gathered from various internet sources. It is crucial to understand that we are not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, or reliability of the information presented Read More

Puck Henry
Puck Henry
Puck Henry is an editor for ePrimefeed covering all types of news.
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