Zimbabwe Struggling To Repay Iran's Loan

The revelation was made by the Foreign Affairs minister, Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, at the 6th session of the joint commission on Zimbabwe and Iran in Harare.

The loan was used by the Zimbabwean government to finance agriculture and to digitalise the state owned broadcaster Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) in 2005.The joint commission precedes the arrival of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Thursday on a official state visit.

“Zimbabwe is yet to clear the 15 million euros on the agriculture and digitalisation of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation in 2005.Let me assure you that Zimbabwe will be able to meet all its outstanding arrears,” Foreign Affairs Minister, Simbarashe Mumbengegwi said in  his address at the 6th session of the  joint commission between Zimbabwe and Iran.

Zimbabwe is struggling to service its debt of about US$6 billion. International Monetary Fund (IMF) said it will resume funding to Zimbabwe once it clears its debt.

“The joint commission further discussed other joint ventures in the areas of manufacturing, energy, agriculture, mining and water management,” the joint statement by the two countries read.

“The joint commission agreed to establish a Joint Investment Company to identify and implement projects of mutual benefit to the two countries including areas of banking, finance and insurance.”

Ahmadinejad, will officially open the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) on Friday. He is also expected to tour state enterprises Modzone , where the two countries are partners and also tour Willovale Motor Assembly, officials confirmed.

Another joint session between the two countries will be held in Tehran in 2012.

Ahmadinejad will arrive in Zimbabwe from Uganda where he had been on a two-day visit for talks over his country’s nuclear programme and Kampala’s oil industry.

Ahmadinejad was trying to garner support from Uganda ,which holds one of Africa’s UN Security Council, rotating chair to veto any imposition of sanctions against Iran over its ambitious nuclear programme.

Ahmadinejad’s visit to Zimbabwe, has attracted some controversy among human rights groups and the Movement of Democratic Change (MDC) party led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai. They have condemned the visit by the Iranian leader, regarded in the western world as a dicator, who rigged elections last June to hang onto power. Hundreds of people were killed in Iran last June in the aftermath of a disputed election which resulted in public protests for about a month.

The MDC would not say on Wednesday if it was going to the airport to welcome the Iranian leader whose country’s influence in Zimbabwe was growing at an alarming rate surpassing  that of China in hype and visibility. The MDC has described the visit by the Iranian leader as a “political scandal”.

Iranian interests in Zimbabwe cuts across different sectors of the country’s economy spanning from mining, agriculture, manufacturing to broadcasting.

According to statistics from the organisers of the ZITF, Iranian companies make up the highset number of participants.

Ahmadinejad’s visit comes just over a week after the Minister of State in the President’s office, Didymus Mutasa, returned from Iran where he is said to have delivered a special invitation to Ahmadinejad to open the fair by President Robert Mugabe.

Meanwhile, the Muslim community in Zimbabwe, was on Wednesday making a rare appearence in the media flighting advertisements inviting Zimbabweans to join them in welcoming Ahmadinejad at the Harare International Airport. Free bus rides from Harare suburbs will be provided by the Muslim Association in Zimbabwe to those wishing to go to the airport.