Zimbabwe’s Information Secretary, Nick Mangwana, Information, has said President Emmerson Mnangagwa has received a helicopter from Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The gift was presented to Mnangagwa during his attendance at the Second Russia-Africa Economic and Humanitarian Forum, held in St. Petersburg, Russian Federation, from 27th to 28th July 2023. In a Twitter post seen by Pindula News, Mangwana said:
In this picture collage, you are looking at the Zim1 Helicopter gifted by President Putin to President @edmnangagwa. This bird will soon be gracing our skies.
There are doubts and suspicions about the nature of the helicopter “donation” with some commentators expressing concerns that not enough information has been provided regarding the gift. Some have questioned the motives behind the donation.
Several commentators on Twitter suggested that the gift could be part of a larger exchange that may not have been disclosed to the public.
In May 2023, Zimbabwe took delivery of 18 helicopters from Russia as part of an approximately $320 million public-private partnership deal between the two nations. These helicopters will be deployed in the health and security sectors, as well as during natural disasters. The partnership is seen as an indication of the growing relations between Harare and Moscow, with additional helicopters set to arrive by 2025.
According to reports, the 18 helicopters were bought for $10 million each, even though they are believed to be secondhand and originally cost $2.5 million when new. Former Minister of Finance and CCC deputy president, Tendai Biti, has raised concerns that procurement procedures were not followed in the purchase of the helicopters.