Push for Zim-Lebanon diplomatic relations

Tichaona Zindoga

Zimbabwe and Lebanon have not yet formalized relations and a group of Zimbabweans and Lebanese are working hard to see Harare and Beruit come together.

Tichaona Zindoga (R&M) spoke with the leader of the Lebanese-Zimbabwe Friendship Association
Ali Morad (AM) to understand efforts being made to bring the two countries together.

Ali Morad heads the Lebanese-Zimbabwe Friendship Association

R&M: Can you tell us more about your organization, how you came to be and what was the motivation for you to start this organization?

AM: Between Lebanon and Zimbabwe we don’t have any diplomatic relations or consular relations. Our association has been working for the past one year to push for diplomatic relations and consular relations with Zimbabwe because we find similar things between Lebanon and Zimbabwe and it is very important
to Lebanon and Zimbabwe to co-operate. We spoke with Zimbabwe’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade in Harare and I think Government accepts in principle to to establish diplomatic relations with Lebanon because we spoke also with the government of Lebanon and they are also ready to do it and everything is going very well. President Emerson Mnangagwa knows about
the association. We did something in Zimbabwe last week as the first investor came from Lebanon and Congo to Zimbabwe. The association is preparing to hold a conference for investors in Harare and we already spoke with investors from Germany, Austria and Bahrain to come and invest and share with us in
this conference in Harare. We are glad for the help of Ambassador Christopher Mutsvangwa who opened the door for us to do this and has since been working very hard with us to do this.

R&M: When do you expect Zimbabwe and Lebanon to have full relations; what is your expectation as to the earliest date when you can attain the formalization of relations between the two countries?

AM: We are waiting for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Zimbabwe because now we can’t do anything without their approval. Already I spoke also with them and i believe they have initiated moves to formalise relations in line with international protrocols. I think in a few months we will get to appoint
a new Harare consul in Lebanon and a new Lebanon consul in Harare because our Lebanese-Zimbabwe friendship Association is working hard to do that.

R&M: I want to draw your attention to the fact that in Zimbabwe, Lebanese nationals are known to deal illegally in diamonds, in minerals and so forth. Perhaps this is just a stereotype but when people hear about Lebanon they have a certain view. Can you tell us more about Lebanese people, how
we must understand you as a people?

AM: This is an important question. Our Lebanese-Zimbabwe Friendship Association wants to tell the Lebanese people in Zimbabwe that they must respect rules in Harare. Anyone who wants to
do something illegal then we will throw him outside because we don’t want anyone to make any problem between Lebanon and Zimbabwe and to tarnish our relations because are building them step
by step. We, as an association, have to help the very small Lebanese community in Zimbabwe to respect the law and work according to the law, because we are here to build strong and solid friendship
and relations based on justice, respect, cooperation and dialogue between the two friendly peoples. We will not allow anyone to try to work illegally, because respecting the labor laws in Zimbabwe
is the duty of every foreigner residing in this beautiful country with the morals of its people. The association is for the service of good and everyone who works in respect of the laws. The association will
cooperate with everyone and will be at the disposal of the two governments in order to strengthen bilateral relations.
As for the behavior of the mistakes of an individual or several members of any community, this does not mean that the entire community is bad. In all the communities of the world we find the bad and the good, and we will make sure that there are good people. The population of Lebanese people in Zimbabwe I
think is about 100 persons only with the children and families all together. We want to increase this group in Zimbabwe.

R&M: So most people say Zimbabweans are peace loving people, friendly people and educated
people so forth. How do you describe the people of Lebanese in a few words. How do
we understand you as a people or as a community?

AM: They call Lebanon in the Middle-East the “Switzerland of the East”, because Lebanon, the people they are very intelligent and they speak many languages. You can find French, English, German, Portuguese and Spanish, and so forth. We have people from Lebanon in Brazil numbering about 9 million; in Mexico we have 3 million Lebanese. In Southern Africa there are few Lebanese, so we want to increase
the numbers of our expatriates because Lebanese are educated people like Zimbabweans. To make
this cooperation is very important. I’ve to tell you something: we have Lebanon and and Zimbabwe share the same experiences and we can cooperate based on our commonalities to make something to
help our peoples. Zimbabwe offers many attractive long term investment opportunities in infrastructure, products and projects. Our association encourages the investors and investment companies
in Lebanon to offer a clear investment solutions to policymakers and to partners such as development financiers looking to invest there in Zimbabwe as well as providing the real needs of that
people of that countries in which they invest.

These attractive investment opportunities are not limited or exclusive. Zimbabwe has opened the doors for investment and it is a boon for the new generation of decision makers who speak the language
of the private sector. So, as Lebanon we are firm that our desire to invest and encourage business is that Zimbabwe is on the way to become leaders of emerging markets in Africa. We will work in cooperation with several Arab countries but particularly invite businessmen from Lebanon because they have invested
elsewhere in Africa, America, China in Europe. So it is important to us to invite them and encourage them to come with us to Zimbabwe.

R&M: So does this mean that by and large you’re satisfied with the investment climate in Zimbabwe ?

AM: Yeah, yeah. Besides the goal of attracting investments, there is a second imperative which will be to support the development of economy of Zimbabwe and also we put our capabilities. We will make every effort to give Zimbabwe the place it deserves on the investment map because Zimbabwe is the best one to invest in Sub-Saharan Africa. The people here are very intelligent and educated people. I respect all
the other countries in Africa but it is Zimbabwe that’s so lovely,

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