Harare, Zimbabwe – Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko said Tuesday during a visit to Zimbabwe that sanctions imposed by Western nations had brought the two countries closer together, as he offered the Southern African nation “everything you need.”
Lukashenko, who backs Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and his Zimbabwean counterpart Emmerson Mnangagwa are both subjected to US sanctions, along with a coterie of their aides and family members.
“Sanctions on Belarus and Zimbabwe were not just a curse but also a blessing, because if not for the sanctions, maybe Zimbabwe would continue trading with the West, selling its natural resources,” Lukashenko told a news conference in Harare on his first visit to the country.
“But now, because of sanctions, Zimbabwe is trading with Belarus and we are happy to trade with Zimbabwe,” Lukashenko said.
Belarus has shipped hundreds of tractors and harvesters to Harare as part of a $66 million offer to Zimbabwe, which is looking to mechanise its farming sector.
“When we come to Africa we bring peace, we bring science and technology, we are not here to destroy,” Lukashenko said, pledging to help Zimbabwe “in everything you need”.
Mnangagwa and Lukashenko are looking to deepen economic and political cooperation as they face increasing diplomatic isolation on allegations of corruption and rights violations.
The Belarus leader’s visit also comes ahead of a presidential election in Zimbabwe, which Mnangagwa hinted Tuesday would probably be held in July.
He appeared confident of a victory for his Zanu-PF party – in power for the past 43 years – saying that “we will continue winning”.
Mnangagwa, who came to power in 2017 after generals forced the long-time strongman Robert Mugabe to resign, is running for re-election amid new claims of a crackdown on political opponents.
Lukashenko, in power for nearly 30 years, oversaw a brutal crackdown on protests after a contested election in 2020.
In 2021, the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, a consortium of investigative journalists, also unveiled alleged links between Lukashenko’s family and a gold mining venture in Zimbabwe.