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Monday, May 27, 2024

Zim, Egypt seek to consolidate ties

Story by ZBC Reporter

A Zimbabwean Parliamentary delegation visited Egypt recently to interact with their North African counterparts and exchange notes in areas of mutual cooperation.

The delegation comprised the Speaker of the National assembly, Honourable Advocate Jacob Mudenda, Hon. Brig. Gen. (Rtd) K.K. Gwanetsa (Acting Chairperson of the Foreign Affairs and International Trade Porfolio Committee), Hon. T. Karikoga and Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to Cairo, Hon. C. Chihururu. H.E. Air Marshall (Rtd) Shumbayaonda.

The Speaker’s delegation visited the Parliament of Egypt where they held a meeting with His Excellency, Dr. Hanfy Ali El Gebaly, Speaker of the House of Representatives and his team.

In his welcome remarks, the Speaker of the House of Representatives acknowledged the existing strong bilateral relations between Egypt and Zimbabwe anchored on Egypt’s support of Zimbabwe’s struggle for independence since the 1960s where Egypt was a training ground for early freedom fighters, including notably, His Excellency, the President Dr. E.D. Mnangagwa. 

The host Speaker observed that there is, therefore, the opportunity to further strengthen the relations through increasing trade and exploring cooperation in areas that include energy, health, agriculture, construction and housing development for the less privileged.

Egypt has a wealth of experience in these areas and is keen to share practices and embark on technology transfer with the rest of Africa, including Zimbabwe.

Accordingly, both parties committed to strengthening economic cooperation for the mutual benefit of the citizenry of Egypt and Zimbabwe. This requires a commitment to implement Memoranda of Understanding that have been signed between the two countries since 1986. 

The Host Speaker appealed to the Zimbabwe delegation to support Egypt’s offer to host Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Regional Offices in Cairo because Egypt is an African country on the African continent.

The Deputy Speaker stressed the need for political cooperation between Zimbabwe and Egypt, adding economic development between the two sister Republics would be accelerated through the development of reliable transport infrastructure.

In support of strengthening bilateral relations, Dr. Al-Gabadi indicated that Egypt would stand by Zimbabwe, especially in the call for the lifting of illegal sanctions against Zimbabwe.

He had raised the issue in Brussels on the occasion of the European Parliament- Pan African Parliament Inter-Parliamentary Meeting in December 2022. 

The Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs who is also responsible for Parliamentary Affairs made a commitment to strengthen economic ties between Zimbabwe and Egypt as well as to stimulate investment opportunities, particularly in the area of construction.

In the same vein of the need for effective collaboration between Egypt and Zimbabwe, the Secretary General of the House of Representatives informed the Zimbabwe delegation that the Egypt-Zimbabwe Friendship Association had been established and that would go a long way in solidifying the bilateral relations.

In response, Advocate Mudenda acknowledged the cordial relations that have existed between Egypt and Zimbabwe before and after independence and that these relations should be continually cemented through such bilateral visits.

He expressed gratitude to the host Speaker for inviting the delegation to visit Egypt and lauded the excellent hospitality and logistics put in place for the delegation. 

The Hon. Speaker also expressed gratitude for Egypt’s positive response to President Emmerson  Mnangagwa’s request for collaboration in the design and construction of the smart city at Mt Hampden and that Egypt had acceded to cooperating with Zimbabwe in the construction of the Museum of African Liberation.

With reference to the need for peace and security as a condition precedent for development, the Hon. Speaker bemoaned the current Russia-Ukraine conflict which continues to destabilise the world economy.

He opined that it was necessary for the conflict to be resolved sooner than later through concerted diplomatic dialogue because no war can end a war. In response to the destabilised world economy, especially the supply chain of fertilizer and wheat from Ukraine and Russia, Zimbabwe through the direct intervention of President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Zimbabwe has managed to achieve a wheat bumper harvest for the first time in 50 years.

Efforts are being made to ensure that Zimbabwe is self-sufficient in the fertiliser supply chain.

To expedite trade investment between Egypt and Zimbabwe, the Government has established the Zimbabwe Investment Development Authority (ZIDA) as a ONE-STOP SHOP in order to achieve the ease of doing business.  It is believed that the ease of doing business will also be facilitated by the vibrant Ambassadors of Egypt and Zimbabwe who are expected to work closely with the business communities in both countries. 

The Hon. Speaker applauded the suggested improvement of the transportation infrastructure among African States as they strive to implement of the African Free Continental Trade Area and the Africa Agenda 2063. 

Hon Speaker Mudenda congratulated Egypt on the Benban Solar project which the delegation had been privileged to tour. The massive, green project was indeed impressive and was of particular interest as Zimbabwe is currently experiencing electricity deficiency arising from low water levels at the Kariba Dam. Accordingly, Zimbabwe can benefit from Egypt’s vast experience in this area of renewable energy development. 

The Zimbabwe delegation also met with Hon. Baa El-Din Abou Shoka, First Deputy Speaker of the Senate who was accompanied by a coterie of Senators and toured the International Medical Centre, located in Cairo.

The state-of-the-art medical centre provides citizens with access to cutting-edge technology and treatment by world-renowned experts. It is at the heart of Egypt’s medical tourism as it offers specialist medical care to patients from the African continent, the Middle East and the rest of the world.

The International Medical Centre boasts of 800 hospital beds, and the latest equipment in diagnostics and treatment manned by a highly qualified staff of 250 doctors and 600 nurses. It has the capacity to treat up to 300 patients per day.

The hospital specialises in among others, heart surgeries, liver transplants, and bone marrow transplants. Accordingly, the hospital has a fully equipped oncology department to treat various types of cancers.

Additionally, the International Medical Centre also has a fully equipped laboratory, pharmacy, paediatric unit, dental unit, nuclear medicine department, and radiology department, among others. Support services for patients and their families are also readily available within the complex.

The delegation embarked on a guided tour of the new Parliament Building housed within the new sprawling Administrative Complex.

The imposing Parliament Building sits a maximum of 750 Members with future plans to increase this capacity to 1000 Members.

Similar to the Zimbabwe New Parliament Building, the building features impressive architectural designs which pay homage to the country’s rich cultural heritage. Several specific artworks depict the representation role of Parliament.

Among other places, Advocate Mudenda’s delegation wound up their bilateral visit to Egypt by touring a Decent Housing project model in Solag, one of the poorest districts in the country, which is being transformed by the Egyptian Government in a bid to improve the livelihoods of its citizens.

The delegation had an opportunity to meet with the Governor for Solag General Tarek Elfeki and his Deputy Ahmed Sami, who briefed the delegation on the implementation of the project, with Mr Sami subsequently leading a guided tour of the integrated service delivery model.

The model identified 11 Governorates with the most vulnerable citizens and to date 7 of these have been remodelled.

It is anticipated that work on all 11 models will be completed in the next three years.

The interventions of infrastructure development encompassing the provision of clean water, sewer reticulation, health, education, and affordable housing are wholly funded by the national fiscus as a special project to uplift the poor.

As a trickle-down effect, massive employment creation has accrued in the district. 

A standard model features a municipal office providing all Government services, a post office, a fire station, a police post, a hospital and a multi-purpose recreational complex for use by all members of society regardless of age. 

Having decentralised services across the country significantly reduces the burden of citizens travelling long distances to acquire services, it was observed. 

The particular initiative was of interest to the delegation as it is in line with President Mnangagwa’s mantra of leaving no one and no place behind.

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