Greek From Kefalonia a Rising Star in Zimbabwe’s Politics

Vangelis Haritatos with President of Zimbabwe Emmerson Mnangagwa

After a period of political unrest, Zimbabwe has a new cabinet following the  2018 presidential elections in which Emmerson Mnangagwa became the country’s newly elected president, succeeding ousted President Robert Mugabe.

The country’s new 20-member cabinet, along with 13 deputy ministers and 9 provincial ministers was sworn in earlier this month — and has a member who is Greek.

Peter Haritatos, Vangelis’ father

Vangelis Haritatos, a 32-year old politician, is the son of Peter Haritatos, the first white person among the MPs of Mugabe’s Zanu (PF) party.

In 2018, Peter decided that it was time to give a chance to the younger generation so he announced that he will not run again.

The Haritatos family relocated to Zimbabwe in the 1950’s, at a time when European immigrants still faced discrimination from the white Rhodesian settlers. His family tapped into their legacy of baking over the past several  generations, and established a central bakery and confectionery business.

Zimbabwe’s new cabinet

After his father’s successful career in the country’s politics, Haritatos decided to do the same and ran as a candidate, while maintaining his position as a successful businessman at the same time.

He managed to win more than 24,000 votes in the last general election, and learned that he had been appointed as the new deputy minister of agriculture and waters after the formation of the new cabinet.

Vangelis Haritatos and his family

“I am very proud and it is a great honor for me to serve Zimbabwe,” said Haritatos, and added that he is not the first but the second Greek to become a minister of the African country.

His family comes from the Ionian island of Kefalonia, and more specifically the village of Sami, but Haritatos says that he hasn’t managed to visit it yet although he travels to Greece very often, especially during the summer months.

Regarding his new duties as a deputy minister, Haritatos says that he will face many great challenges ahead.

Vangelis Haritatos and his family

Agriculture is one of the main sources of income for the people of Zimbabwe, so Haritatos hopes that he and his government will manage to increase the country’s productivity by attracting more direct foreign investments to that sector.

As for Greece, Haritatos says that the ministry’s doors will be always open to deepen and enhance even further the already excellent relations between the two countries.