The Parliamentary delegation led by the Speaker of Parliament, Honourable Advocate Jacob Mudenda which is currently undertaking a bilateral visit to India met with the Zimbabwe India Trade Council Business (ZITC) delegation led by its President, Dr. Asif Iqbal this Wednesday.
The well-attended meeting which brought together businessmen from cross cutting sectors including health and pharmaceuticals, construction, hospitality, nutritional foods and winery was made possible through the facilitation of the Zimbabwe Ambassador to India, His Excellency G. M. Chipare (Dr).
The Hon. Speaker addressed the business community from a legislative perspective in view of Parliament’s role in ensuring a conducive legal environment for business. In this context, he presented an overview of the investment climate and legislation in Zimbabwe, particularly the enactment of legislation creating the Zimbabwe Investment and Development Agency (ZIDA), the one stop shop investment services centre for ease of doing business in Zimbabwe. Additionally, he informed the business community of the reform of the taxation and visa regimes to spur foreign direct investment.
Hon. Advocate Mudenda articulated Zimbabwe’s national vision 2030 aimed at achieving an Upper-Middle Economy anchored on the Presidential mantra “Zimbabwe is Open for Business”. Accordingly, he implored the Indian business community to explore the various investment opportunities in Zimbabwe, a country with a sound constitution that respects the Bill of Rights including the protection of property rights. Zimbabwe is also a perfect tourist destination that boasts of the Victoria Falls, one of UNESCO’s seven wonders of the world.
The Hon. Speaker also shared some of the Second Republic’s progressive policies such as the education 5.0 which stimulates industrial growth through science and technology. He indicated that through Parliamentary oversight, Parliament would work closely with the Executive to ensure the execution of signed business Memoranda between India and Zimbabwe.
Speaking on behalf of the membership of the ZITC, Dr. Iqbal expressed the ZITC’s keen interest in investing in Zimbabwe. To this end, the ZITC has, in the past year, dispatched 3 delegations to Zimbabwe to explore opportunities with the intention of establishing a pharmaceutical company with the aim of producing affordable products for both domestic and foreign markets and an India/SADC Millet Research Centre to be based in Zimbabwe, among other initiatives.
The Zimbabwean delegation also paid a courtesy call on Smt. Droupadi Murmu, 15th President of the Republic of India.
Commenting on the existing relations between Zimbabwe and India, Her Excellency, the President, Smt Droupadi Murmur, recalled the high level visits between the two countries with the latest visit from Zimbabwe being the First Lady of Zimbabwe, Her Excellency, Dr. Auxillia Mnangagwa, who visited India in May 2022 whereupon she was awarded an Honourary Doctorate by G.D. Goenka University. She applauded the cordial ties between the two countries with India having extended support and cooperation to Zimbabwe, including extension of credit lines for investment projects and aid in the form of 75 000 doses of the COVID -19 vaccine, among others.
The President encouraged the Parliament of Zimbabwe and the Parliament of India to foster a positive working relationship through sharing experiences and learning Parliamentary best practices.
In response, the Hon. Speaker expressed his gratitude for the excellent hospitality extended to the delegation and extended fraternal warm regards from her counterpart, His Excellency, Dr E.D. Mnangagwa. Furthermore, he expressed his gratitude for the aid and support extended to Zimbabwe in the various sectors, in particular, health and education. Hailing from the legislature, the Hon. Speaker assured the President that the Parliament is committed to putting in place a sound legal framework for the ease of doing business to facilitate trade and investment opportunities between Zimbabwe and India.
The courtesy call on the President is testimony to the commitment by both Zimbabwe and India to ensuring that the long standing relations continue to grow from strength to strength.
The delegation visited the Rajghat to pay their respect to the iconic and legendary Mahatma Gandhi on 08 December 2022. The Rajghat is a memorial garden to Mahatma Gandhi and houses his mausoleum. It features a black marble platform which marks the spot of Mahatma Gandhi’s cremation and resting place. His last words “Oh Lord” are inscribed on the marble platform. The marble platform is always adorned with flowers and there is also an eternal flame at its head.
The Hon. Speaker laid a wreath in honour of Mahatma Gandhi, founding father of the Indian nation.
On Thursday, the delegation toured the Parliament Building, specifically the Parliament’s Reading Room as well as the Library. The Reading Room is the venue for a Joint Sittings of the two Houses used when the President addresses Parliament and the nation. The President addresses Parliament annually to set out the legislative agenda of the legislature in a similar fashion to our Presidential State of the Nation Address.
The delegation toured the impressive Library which was established in 1921. The Library boasts of 1.7 million documents and books comprising reference books, parliamentary publications, newspapers and gazettes. It also houses the cased original copy of the Constitution of India which has been preserved in its handwritten form.
Furthermore, the delegation had the privilege to observe the Rajya Sabha (Upper House) and the Lok Sabha (Lower House) in Session during oral questions. Of note is that the Members of Parliament pose concise and incisive questions relating to issues affecting their constituencies within three minutes per each Member of Parliament’s delivery.
The Hon. Speaker and Hon. Shri Jagdeep Dhankhar, Vice President of the Republic of India and Chairman of the Rajya Sabha (the Upper House) exchanged views on strengthening democracy and democratic institutions, global challenges including climate change, the fight against COVID -19 pandemic, global peace with special reference to the need for a peaceful resolution to the Ukraine-Russia crisis and issues of equality in advancing national development.
The Chairman articulated the positive strides made by India in various areas, including sustainable health delivery and pharmaceuticals, development of ICT’s, digital connectivity from the village level, infrastructure development, provision of clean running water and rural electrification.
Hon. Speaker Mudenda articulated the role of the Parliament of Zimbabwe in crafting laws for the ease of doing business and Zimbabwe’s hope of attracting investors from India. He pledged to continue supporting India’s progressive positions at the international fora as well as commending India’s assumption of the G20 leadership which it was hoped Zimbabwe’s call for the removal of sanctions and its desire to re-join the Commonwealth would be advocated by India within the G20 countries.
The delegation met with the Speaker of the Lok Sabha on 09 December 2022. The two Speakers discussed possible areas of cooperation between Zimbabwe and India and explored ways of strengthening relations between the two legislatures. It was agreed that the relations should cascade to the Members of Parliament. Accordingly, a Friendship Association between the two legislatures would be formally established in order to cement Parliamentary diplomacy between the two institutions. The two agreed to stand together in debating international issues such as climate change whenever they met at the international fora like at the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU).