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HARARE: January 21, 2019. A little more than a year after removing Robert Mugabe from power, Zimbabwe president Emmerson Mnangagwa has cut short a trip to Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan where he had sought loans and foreign investment to prop up an imploding economy.

In a tweet 24 hours earlier that few in his country could have read because his government had severed access to the Internet and social media, Mnangagwa said he was cutting short his trip that had included a fund-raising visit to Davos and the World Economic Forum. "In light of the economic situation, I will be returning home after a highly productive week of bilateral trade and investment meetings,” he declared.

Zimbabwe president Emmerson Mnangagwa and Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko According to the country's state-owned Herald newspaper, Mnangagwa and Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko (pictured) have signed agreements covering education and training, science and technology, agriculture and a scheme to make Zimbabwe a logistics hub in sub-Saharan Africa with rail links connecting the country to China via Belarus.

The Herald reported Lukashenko saying he considered Zimbabwe an important and strategic partner in Africa and was “ready, willing and able to support the country’s economic development agenda”. According to Belarus chief of Presidential Affairs Victor Sheiman, the logistics rail scheme involves China, Belarus and Zimbabwe “and several Southern African countries” with a joint venture to be registered “in the coming weeks”.

Belarus has also agreed to invest in Zimbabwe irrigation systems, residential housing, roads “possibly with China”, a 100MW solar power plant, a control system and a distribution network, said the newspaper.

Sheiman is reported to have told the Herald that in February a transport company “with an initial 1,000 trucks would be registered so as to facilitate commerce via ports; while a logistics firm would establish a hub that would service the region at a scale allowing companies and countries to plan for orders and movements years in advance”.

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