ZIMBABWE’S ambassador to Belarus, Graham Mudzimba, appointed in July this year, is a close ally of President Emmerson Mnangagwa and, while he will represent the country in the Eastern European nation, concerns have also emerged that he will also represent the First Family’s growing business interests.
Mudzimba was previously ambassador to Cuba.
He is also an ex-director in the President’s Office responsible for special projects.
Revelations that Zimbabwe would appoint an ambassador to Belarus was first made by Foreign Affairs and International Trade minister Frederick Shava after his meeting with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko in Minsk on 28 March.
Shava is another close ally of Mnangagwa from the Midlands, the Zanu PF leader’s home province.
During the visit to Minsk, the capital of Belarus, foreign journalists asked when Zimbabwe would name an ambassador to Belarus.
“Belarus already runs an embassy in Zimbabwe. Based on the principles of reciprocity, Zimbabwe has recently opened its embassy in Minsk. We have already discussed the interior works in the premises where the embassy is located.
And this will be done as quickly as possible. Only after that an ambassador will be appointed.
This will not be long in coming, within the next few months,” Shava said then. In April this year, Mnangagwa positioned First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa and his children at the centre of cutting family business deals with Belarus.
Auxillia flew out of the country with her twin sons, Sean and Collins, to hold separate meetings with Belarusian leader Lukashenko and his Foreign Affairs minister Sergei Aleinik on purely personal deals using her proximity to power in Harare.
According to Belarusian media house Belta, Auxillia discussed issues involving business deals in agriculture, technology and mining.
In another development that showed how Mnangagwa is using state power to cement First Family business ties, in February he was captured by the media arriving in Malabo in Equatorial Guinea, with his son Emmerson Junior.
Equatorial Guinea is led by Teodoro Obiang Nguema and his son Teodoro Jnr who is Vice-President — an arrangement Mnangagwa will be happy to stitch back home in Harare.
Again, early this year, Mnangagwa and Lukashenko met in Harare.
Emmerson Jnr attended high-level meetings at State House despite not being a government official amid concern that he was pursuing family business interests.
Emmerson Jr was again spotted the following day at another high-level event where Lukashenko and his delegation visited the National Heroes’ Acre to lay a wreath on the grave of the unknown soldier.
While the Heroes’ Acre event included scores of other ordinary citizens, it was his presence at the State House closed-door meetings which raised eyebrows.
Lukashenko, in a statement after meeting Auxillia and her sons Sean and Collins in Minsk in April, confirmed that he had clinched deals which he had negotiated with Mnangagwa in Harare during his February visit.
Lukashenko made it clear that the deals which Auxillia had followed up in Belarus had been made on his friendship basis with Mnangagwa in Harare, implying they were personal and not for the Zimbabwean government.
“Dear Mrs Auxillia Mnangagwa, as we agreed with the president, you are in Belarus today on a very important visit. I am fulfilling the request of my friend President Emmerson so that the technologies that are in demand in Zimbabwe are in your country. We are ready to help you implement several projects at the request of your country and your president to build high-tech enterprises. First of all, this concerns humanitarian activities.”
Controversial businessman Alekzander Zingman, who is Mnangagwa’s close ally and is Zimbabwe’s consul in Belarus, was present in the meetings that Auxillia and her children attended.
For the first time, Auxillia excluded state media journalists from the jaunt, cementing the narrative that the visit was purely over interests of the First Family despite the fact that the trip was state sponsored.