Close economic and political ties between Zimbabwe and Iran could yield huge results if opportunities identified in the two countries are fully exploited through various agreements that have been sealed in different sectors.
The agreements should also see tremendous progress and results in the area of agriculture where the country’s revolutionary land redistribution has empowered the black majority.
Zimbabwe and Iran are both under Western sanctions and have been working together and sharing the same views on international issues of mutual interest.
They have both taken every opportunity to condemn Western embargoes that are weighing down on their economies.
The two countries are always on the same side with the rest of the developing world on issues that militate against their growth and prosperity on the international stage.
On a bilateral level, the two countries have entered into various agreements to boost their economies and the social lives of the ordinary people.
An Iranian company, Modzone Enterprises came to the rescue of Cone Textiles, the former biggest employer in Chitungwiza when it faced challenges.
Although the company closed in recent times due to the harsh economic climate, plans are on course to revive the operations and bring back life to the once booming Chitungwiza dormitory town, whose demand for employment is now very high due to increased population.
Another area of cooperation with Iran is the oil sector where Iran is looking at helping revive oil refining at Ferruka near Mutare.
Iran is richly endowed with gas and oil, resources which Zimbabwe lacks.
The two countries are looking at ways to support Zimbabwe’s energy sector through the rehabilitation of Ferruka Oil Refinery and other energy sectors.
In 2006, President Robert Mugabe and former Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad signed six agreements to strengthen economic relations in the areas of technology and infrastructure.
The accords related to agriculture, oil industry, education, humanitarian aid, increased cooperation in the private sectors and trade facilitation between the two countries.
Tehran and Harare signed a joint venture deal to manufacture Motira tractors in Zimbabwe in March 2008.
According to the agreement, Iran’s investment would control 55 percent of the venture and Zimbabwe Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) maintained the balance.
The target production was 5000 tractors per year, with expectation that the product would expand to regional markets in years to come.
Components would be imported from Iran and later be substituted by Zimbabwean domestic components.
Iran invested $4 million in the deal.
In 2010, Iran donated food assistance and cash for the Zunde Ramambo project for the disadvantaged, as well as helped the national broadcaster, ZBC to update equipment.
Collaboration in the energy sector has remained on the cards despite disruption of the two nations’ plans in recent times due to the economic challenges in Zimbabwe.
Meanwhile, experts contend that the success of the bilateral cooperation between Zimbabwe and Iran hinge on implementation, regular reviews as well as their potential to bust up sanctions imposed on both countries by the Western economies.
“With Zimbabwe and Iran forging ahead with cooperation deals, it is high time that they are implemented,” a trade economist, Dr Gift Mugano said.
Another economist, Dr Nyasha Kaseke said there is also need to regularly review and assess the bilateral trade deals between the two countries.
“That Iran and Zimbabwe are reeling under Western sanctions, the cooperation agreements can be used as a method to bust up the embargo,” a commercial lawyer, Mr James Makiya said.
Expectations are therefore high that the anticipated strength in bilateral cooperation deals will yield their objectives and facilitate increased cooperation between Zimbabwe and Iran.