Takunda Maodza in Montevideo, Uruguay
PRESIDENT Mugabe on Thursday met Uruguay President Tabare Vasquez at his offices in Montevideo, the country’s capital, where the two leaders discussed ways to boost bilateral and economic ties.
President Mugabe was joined by Foreign Affairs Minister Dr Walter Mzembi in the meeting. Dr Mzembi later met Uruguay Foreign Affairs Minister Mr Rodolfo Nin Novoa at his offices.
Briefing the media on the two meetings, Dr Mzembi said Zimbabwe would soon dispatch a delegation to engage Uruguay in areas covering energy and agriculture. Uruguay, which is home to 3,5 million people, has excelled in agriculture and renewable energy production.
“It is a follow-up to a meeting the two Presidents held in the morning and I accompanied the President to that meeting,” said Dr Mzembi.
“I think we have something going with the Uruguayans, very warm people and very genuine. What they have informed me is that their own President has instructed that a delegation be dispatched to Harare to follow up on the Presidential discussion. We have refined it a little bit in our own meeting to a position where we are saying the Minister of Agriculture and that of Energy from Zimbabwe must first come up here to familiarise with the issues that the two Presidents discussed.”
Dr Mzembi said Uruguay had distinguished itself, particularly in cattle ranching to such an extent that it now exports to most countries around the world. He said such an experience was critical for Zimbabwe which wants to develop the same sector.
“The first aspect being the area around cattle ranching and beef production, where Uruguay is excelling to the extent where, despite the fact that it is one-tenth the size of Zimbabwe, they actually host 20 million heads (cattle), and they are exporting to 140 countries and clearly that provides a very useful benchmark study for our Minister of Agriculture,” said Dr Mzembi.
“In addition, they are actually — notwithstanding that they are a 3,5 million population country — growing food enough to feed 30 million people, so they are exporting to feed more than 26 million people across the globe.”
Zimbabwe, Dr Mzembi said, could also learn how to include renewable energy as part of its energy mix.
“The second aspect is of course where the emphasis is on renewable energy production,” he said. “Uruguay does not import energy. It is actually self-sufficient to the extent where it is producing 70 percent of its energy from wind and the rest is biomass and hydroelectric.
“Again, we think that this will be a useful benchmark study for the Energy Minister and his officials. Thereafter, when they go back, it will be followed by a delegation from Uruguay who will come to explore business opportunities between the two countries.”
President Mugabe is in Uruguay for the World Health Organisation Conference on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs).
WHO on Wednesday appointed President Mugabe its goodwill ambassador for Africa in the fight against NCDs.
NCDs are diseases that cannot be passed from one person to another such as cancer and diabetes.