ZIMBABWE is seeking to establish fully-fledged diplomatic relations with Israel. Our (ND) senior reporter Tinashe Kairiza spoke to Zimbabwe’s honorary consul in Israel Ronny Musan (RM) who spoke about how the two countries, faced with varying difficulties, could co-operate to overcome the difficulties for mutual benefit. Below are excerpts…
ND: Did you get the chance of meeting President Emmerson Mnangagwa, if so, what dominated your discussions?
RM: As an Honourable Consul of Zimbabwe in Israel I am honoured to meet His Excellency (HE) President Emmerson Mnangagwa every time I come here to update him and HE Foreign and International Trade minister Sibusiso Moyo on the plans we have promoted in Israel for Zimbabwe. These meetings are very important and to my pleasure they are far beyond polite meetings, because at the end of the day there is work to be done and we must be practical and execute the plans as quickly as possible.
ND: Zimbabwe is battling to settle a US$8,2 billion external debt, are you helping in any way to resolve that?
RM: The first thing is not to be so shocked by numbers! One should breathe, relax and work on rehabilitation plans instead of going and posting panic. Do you know that before the beginning of COVID-19, the national debt of the State of Israel was US$250 billion? And today it is higher and still Israel’s credit rating is not falling. Why?
Because there is proper crisis management. Crisis management is not solved in one day. There is no magic formula in State recovery… it is a process that HE Mnangagwa is leading in promoting important reforms in Zimbabwe that will undoubtedly save it from this “big debt”.
And why do I put the word “big debt” in quotes… since Zimbabwe is a natural power! It has natural resources that can buy Israel, it has fertile ground that even if you plant a broom stick you will get a fruit tree, so you have to manage the crisis properly, promote agricultural development and export agricultural products that can feed European countries, give investors the security they need in order for them to invest foreign currency here, to develop the value of the assessment of natural resources in the right way, to avoid smuggling channels and to invest in education and training in the fields of technology and more …
ND: Did you discuss, in your engagements, how Zimbabwe can meaningfully benefit from her diamond resources?
RM: The diamonds of Zimbabwe as I have said before are God’s gift. Wherever you step in Zimbabwe you find natural resources. Just dig and find them. The problem in this field as I see it is an incorrect assessment of the value of diamonds whose results enrich a limited number of diamond merchants, who come to buy and sell Zimbabwean products abroad in much higher amounts but leave Zimbabwe’s reserves in deficit. Here too, HE President promotes reforms and plans that at the end of the day he will present data showing that Zimbabwe makes more money from diamonds than in the previous methods used. Diamond dealers can certainly make money, no one works for free, but there is a huge difference between making money and milking Zimbabwe’s resources.
I get a lot of inquiries from international diamond traders who trade with Israel, because Israel is undoubtedly a diamond trading power house probably because of the peace agreements with the Emirates, but I make it clear to anyone who addresses me unequivocally that I am not here to take advantage of my position to plunder Zimbabwe….. but to help and leverage what belongs to Zimbabwe. This is what I promised HE President Mnangagwa, and this is how I will act. I see no other way.
ND: Did you make any comprehensive agreements with the government of Zimbabwe, if so, what do they focus on?
RM: We currently focus primarily on advancing agreements and programmes in the areas of technology, education, and agriculture. These are the pillars of getting out of the crisis and building a better future for Zimbabwe. When the plans are signed and implemented, be sure we will publish it.
ND: How important is the issue of broad-based dialogue in Zimbabwe considering that Mnangagwa’s legitimacy is contested by the opposition?
RM: In this case, too, I will take you to what is happening in Israel. The Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu who has been considered a world leader for years, is crucified everyday by the opposition and the media. So what? So he functions less well? He brings less success? Absolutely not.
The opposite. A true leader should concentrate on action and not on background noises. This is what HE President is doing. The public judges leaders only by results, not by populist articles in the newspaper or on television. The role of the opposition is to present another side and another option for the government, it is their right, it is the beauty of democracy as long as it does not destroy the State and its institutions and preserve its dignity.
ND: Are there any Israeli investors willing to invest in Zimbabwe?
RM: I am happy to say that investors in Israel are waiting to receive our investment plans, review them and start investing in Zimbabwe. Yes it happens. Once we start assisting with external investment I believe it will give local banks hope that something is happening here and they themselves will start to enter into greater daring investment and have faith in the market in Zimbabwe. It is a process taking place now.
ND: Has Harare made any comprehensive plans to establish fully-fledged relations with Israel?
RM: There is a plan to establish the Zimbabwean Embassy in Israel. It is advanced is in the corridors of the Foreign Affairs offices of both countries. We opened the consulate offices in Israel a year ago. The consulate offices are respectable and luxurious offices with luxury vehicles that represent Zimbabwe with great respect. I am happy to head this important task in Israel, with the help of my friend the Honorary Consul and Senior Advocate Moshe Yitzhak Osdoicher.
The establishment costs are our personal contribution to the overall mission success and representation of Zimbabwe in the most dignified manner. Large investors like to join success. I say responsibly that the representation of the Zimbabwean consulate in Israel is a pride and it undoubtedly attracts investors.
ND: During your engagements with Zimbabwean officials, did they express interest to buy ammunition from Israel?
RM: Zimbabwe does not need Israel when it comes to supplying ammunition, other countries supply it. I prefer to concentrate on vegetables and natural resources instead of ammunition.
ND: You met with religious leaders in Zimbabwe, what is their approach to resolving the country’s crisis?
RM: Zimbabwe is a country with a large Christian population. And to be a Christian without a connection to the Holy Land is like leaves without a tree. This faith attaches immense importance to the promotion of co-operation with Israel. I had the honour of meeting with the esteemed elders of the congregation, true men of God, Archbishop Ezekiel Guti, head of ZAOGA Church and Bishop Nehemiah Mutendi, head of ZCC, two leaders who have a tremendous impact on the population.
Their approach is a biblical approach, of truth. It is a combination of faith and work. On the one hand a belief that God in heaven is with us at all times and blesses our work and effort here in the land. A combination of heaven and earth. We already promote significant spiritual and business collaborations with Israel, which will greatly help Zimbabwe in the spiritual, agricultural and educational fields.
I was also hosted by a young and charismatic leader, Prophet Walter Magaya, head of Prophetic Healing and Deliverance (PHD) ministries, who presented to me his local impressive work and development both in the field of tourism and industrial production, in order to open the Israeli market for the import of natural honey and quality marble products produced by him.
A lot of work is still ahead of us.