Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has made a major climbdown and pledged to support Zimbabwe’s economic recovery by joining the anti-sanctions lobby to remove the punitive measures which he imposed together with the United States’ then leader President George W Bush when he was still leader of that country, President Mnangagwa has said.

The Head of State and Government said in his meeting with Mr Blair during a recent visit to London for the coronation of King Charles lll, Blair agreed to lobby for the removal of illegal sanctions imposed against Harare by Britain at his instigation.

President Mnangagwa, who is also Zanu PF First Secretary, said this while addressing a star rally at Chinorumba High School, Zaka district aimed at drumming up support for the revolutionary party ahead of the August 23, 2023 harmonised elections.

He said Blair and President Bush had struck a pact in which Britain would support the United States to invade Iraq while Washington would help Blair impose sanctions on Zimbabwe.

This was after the US invaded Iraq accusing it of possessing weapons of mass destruction, an allegation that turned out to be false.

Britain, then led by Blair, had become livid by Zimbabwe’s decision to embark on the land reform programme aimed at correcting historical land imbalances through distributing land to the black majority.

“When I met with Blair, I told him you had an altercation with Mugabe . . . do you want to do the same with me, and he said ‘no’. So I asked him to resolve the issue before he dies so he is engaging his colleagues in his country to have the issue resolved,” said President Mnangagwa.

He said owing to the Government’s engagement and re-engagement policy of becoming a friend to all and an enemy to none, the global world was warming up to Zimbabwe.

The President said the only country that has not relented was the US that was even against Zimbabwe’s participation at the US/Africa Business Forum held in Botswana last week.

“Last week there was the US Africa Business Forum held in Botswana. The President of Botswana Mokgweetsi Masisi, who is my younger brother, invited me but advised me that the US had expressed reservations about my attendance.

“But Masisi invited me notwithstanding their reservations and I went there. There was a place where we were staying so the Americans left in protest about my presence there.

“We must be proud of who we are and we must be respected. We will not accept to be treated as second class citizens. We are equal to every single member of the United Nations.”

President Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe’s economy continues to register huge growth despite the fact that it is under the yoke of sanctions.

He chronicled several policy measures that the Zanu PF administration had embarked on for economic recovery and the economy was now on a growth trajectory.

The policy measures are in the area of agriculture to ensure food security and import substitution, energy to ensure constant and uninterrupted power supply.

Others include infrastructure development such as dam construction and road rehabilitation.

“We have a model of agriculture that guarantees food security and mitigates against effects of climate change. No one should starve in the country.

“We have several agricultural systems including those that are headed by traditional leaders. We also have structures run by the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works at all levels including councillors,” said President Mnangagwa. -Herald