ZIMBABWE – Preident Robert Mugabe is in India where he is attending the third and the biggest ever India-Africa Forum Summit.
Accompanying Mugabe are finance minister Patrick Chinamasa and small to medium scale enterprises minister, Sithembiso Nyoni.
Chinamasa has been at the fore front of Zimbabwe’s bid to unlock funding from the developed nations and other potential partners from China and India, among other nations.
Despite Chinamasa being savaged by cabinet colleagues such as Chris Mutsvangwa and Patrick Zhuwao, Mugabe seems to be sticking by his loyalist as he desperately seeks to revive the economy which is threatening his 35-year hold on power.
The India-Africa summit comes as Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeks to challenge China’s dominance on Asia which is endowed with vast natural resources and has, according to experts, the world’s fastest-growing population.
India also seeks to project its soft power and historical ties to Africa, â€œin contrast to China’s focus on resource extraction and capital investment that has sparked a backlash in some countries against Beijing’s mercantilist expansion, according to Reuters.
More than 40 heads of state and government are expected to attend.
The event will kick start with a series of ministerial meetings until a full summit is held on Thursday.
Mugabe’s government hopes to cast its net wider and widen prospects of full scale economic revival as Zimbabwe tries to gain its status as Africa’s bread basket.
Chinamasa was Tuesday expected to sign an $87 million loan with the Export Import Bank of India (Eximbank). The loan is for the upgrading and rehabilitation of the Bulawayo Thermal Power Station.
Eximbank, which has been involved in the Hwange Colliery before, extended the latest loan as part of its Africa Focus programme whose main thrust is to deepen bilateral cooperation with Africa.
The loan comes at a time when Zimbabwe is facing an acute shortage of power. Whole industries and residential homes have been severely affected by the shortage.
India’s trade with Africa currently stands at $70 billion.
So far, New Delhi has provided $7.4 billion of worth credit lines to 41 countries.
The first India-Africa Forum Summit was held in New Delhi in 2008 while Ethiopia hosted the second summit in 2011.
The third summit was supposed to have been held last year but was delayed because of the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa.
Meanwhile, co-vice president Phelekezela Mphoko is the acting president