While it has widely been argued by various critics that President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Zanu PF Government has dismally failed to re-engage with the global community in the three years that the septuagenarian has been in office, authorities in Harare say the Zimbabwe leader’s re-engagement drive has been paying dividends.
When he came to power on the back of a military coup that ousted the late long-ruling Robert Mugabe in November 2017, Mnangagwa told thousands of Zimbabweans who congregated at the giant National Sports Stadium that after years of sour relations with the global community under Mugabe, his New Dispensation was bent on re-engaging with the international community.
While bemoaning the existence of economic sanctions on Zimbabwe authorities by the West, Mnangagwa’s Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Sibusiso Moyo last Thursday told Parliament that the Government was satisfied with successes registered in strengthening relations, rebuilding broken ties and establishing new relationships with the international community.
“When one reviews the progress we have made over the past two to three years, it is inevitable that we see both positive and negative developments along our chosen trajectory; but I believe it is fair to say that, overall, we can be satisfied that, notwithstanding the occasional setback, we have advanced along the path of further strengthening existing relationships, of rebuilding broken relationships and of establishing new relationships — and that this multifaceted process has gathered enough traction to warrant not only its active continuation but indeed yet further impetus and acceleration,” Moyo told parliamentarians in a ministerial statement.
“Mr Speaker Sir, it is my firm contention therefore, that, regardless of the occasional diplomatic skirmishes with the West, regrettably often overblown by both our local and foreign media and notwithstanding the West’s stubborn reluctance to acknowledge progress in the implementation of Government’s home-grown reform agenda, our re-engagement efforts are paying dividends in terms of the New Dispensation’s commitment to rebuilding Zimbabwe’s image and to returning our country to its rightful place within the Community of Nations,” he said.
Moyo also noted the removal of some individuals from the sanctions list by the European Union (EU) as one notable pointer to progress.
The former army general said as from February, 2020, there were no longer any individuals on the active sanctions list of the European Union (EU) although Zimbabwe Defence Industries (ZDI) remains sanctioned with an arms-embargo also in place against the landlocked southern African country.
In typical fashion of the past Mugabe Government, the former military general who was appointed minister when Mnangagwa came to power, said the continued existence of the economic sanctions were an impediment to the projected achievements by the current regime.
“Our view, of course, is that sanctions are unjustified and obsolete and must go. The success of our diplomatic engagement in this direction is clearly demonstrated by the solidarity of fellow SADC and other African nations, of major powers such as China, India, and the Russian Federation, of the group of Non-Aligned countries, the ACP group of nations and many others who continue to intensify their call for those sanctions to be lifted. There was no such unanimous chorus prior to November 2017,” he said.
Added the minister:
“We have heard during the advent of coronavirus a call on removal of sanctions on countries which have had sanctions in Africa. This has been done by different players so I think there has been tremendous progress in that regard and even this year, the 39th United Nations General Assembly, you have seen quite a lot of heads of state who have been calling for the removal of sanctions.
“We are saying can these sanctions be removed, they are no longer relevant.”
His statement also comes at a time when the Mnangagwa adminstration has been subjected to wide condemnation for allegedly disregarding democratic provisions such as the importance of human rights in the country.
The opposition MDC Alliance under Mnangagwa’s 2018 electoral arch-nemesis, Nelson Chamisa, is on record blaming the current regime for resorting to forced abductions in the pursuit of containing the dissenting masses.