By Mutsa Makuvaza
SPEAKER of Parliament Jacob Mudenda is in Ankara, Turkey, on official business where he yesterday said the aim of his visit was to strengthen the inter-parliamentary relations between the two countries. Mudenda’s visit also comes a few weeks after Turkish media reported that Zimbabwe was seeking military ties with Turkey, with Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Frederick Shava having been in Turkey only two weeks ago.
Defence Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri will also be visiting Turkey in August.
Yesterday, Turkey’s parliament speaker Mustafa Sentopy met his counterpart Mudenda and urged the two countries to deepen economic relations in every field. Mudenda toured parts of the Turkish parliament building that were bombed during the defeated coup of July 15, 2016.
The Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) and its US-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup, which killed 251 people and injured nearly 2,200 others.
“I think that we should make mutual efforts to deepen our bilateral economic relations in every field and diversify them with new cooperation and investment opportunities,” Sentop said during his meeting with Mudenda.
Encouraging businesses to strengthen economic ties, Sentop added: “I hope that your visit to Turkey will be fruitful and beneficial in this context and will be beneficial for our political, economic, cultural and human relations. The aim of my visit is to strengthen the inter-parliamentary relations between the two countries,” said Mudenda.
Mudenda, for his part, thanked Sentop for his hospitality.
Speaking in Turkey last on 22 June, Shava said due to being a former British colony, most of Zimbabwe’s military equipment was imported from the UK. With the sanctions applied, the country is unable to get spare parts for the equipment from the EU or the US, he added.
“We looked to the East, and from looking to the East, we got some equipment from friendly countries. We need to continue to advance our sources for defense equipment, and this is why we are looking towards Turkey for defense facilitation,” he said.
Stressing that the most important “need” of Zimbabwe in the field of defense is finding supplies, Shava said they want to continue working on “enhancing” their defense manufacturing entity.
“We are hoping that we can agree with Turkey to assist us in this regard,” he said.
He further noted that Zimbabwe’s defense minister will visit Turkey in August and attend “the Turkish display of defense industry program.”
Shava also mentioned the exemption of duties for companies investing in Zimbabwe, explaining that a company engaged in production which “requires you to bring equipment and you have to import it from somewhere, then there is no requirement for duties paid for this equipment.”
He also noted that the imposed sanctions also urges Zimbabwe to address other areas such as human rights issues as well as the aligning of the “constitution of Zimbabwe with the new laws.”
“On the various alignments that happened, we are left with I believe 30 aspects to align regarding the constitutional laws,” he added.
Regarding tourism, Shava said there is a “general promotion of encouragement for our nationals to visit” countries of each.
“Zimbabwe in particular is trying to urge Turkish Airlines to fly to Victoria Falls and bring Turkish tourists to Zimbabwe,” he said, adding that such a move by the popular airlines “would enable Turkish citizens to travel more easily.”
“We are working very hard on this,” he said.
As part of its policy of “Opening Up to Africa,” Turkey opened an embassy in Harare in 2011, creating a positive effect on bilateral relations.
According to data from the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat), in 2019, the year before the coronavirus pandemic, the trade volume between Turkey and Zimbabwe was approximately $19 million. — Zimbabwe Voice and Agencies ■