by Bevan Musoko
To most Zimbabweans, the annual United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) meetings had become synonymous with controversial and fiery speeches by former President Robert Mugabe which denounced, without fail, the US, Britain and other Western countries for their supposed interference in the internal affairs of the country.
It had almost become a predictable pattern that whoever would be the US and British leaders would be in for a public tongue lashing by the veteran nationalist.
It is indeed true that the US and Western countries interfered in one way or the other with Zimbabwe’s internal affairs, ranging from sponsoring opposition parties to imposition of sanctions. How a country would respond to this kind of provocation is subject to debate.
Enter President Mnangagwa in 2017 with his rallying war cry on economic priorities over political grandstanding. President Mnangagwa has made it as clear as day that his Government will pay more attention to economic issues than politics as he seeks to reverse the country’s socio-economic decline that spans over two decades. The President has clearly diagnosed that prioritising politics would not help in resuscitating the economy, hence his wise decision to focus on the economy.
It is in this framework that President Mnangagwa’s address to the UN General Assembly on Wednesday, 26 September is expected to outline the country’s shift from political grandstanding to forging mutually beneficial economic ties, even with the very countries that have sanctions against Zimbabwe in place. It is an undeniable fact that the US wields significant influence in the unipolar world that emerged from the ashes of the cold war. Its economy is strong. The US wilds strong influence in the United Nations itself, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the African Development Bank and other multilateral financial organisations.
As such, it would not be wise for President Mnangagwa to follow in the footsteps of Mugabe in pursuing confrontational politics with the US and other multilateral financial institutions. The President has already pronounced that he would seek to mend relations with the US for the common good of both countries, while forging new ties with other economies. The Minister of Finance, Professor Mthuli Ncube and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor, Dr John Mangundya are also singing from the same hymn book with the President on the need for re-engagement with the international community.
Expectedly, President Mnangagwa will consolidate this emerging foreign policy based on securing Zimbabwe’s economic interests when he addresses the UNGA. The President is expected to extend Zimbabwe’s friendship to willing partners for mutually beneficial engagements.
Zimbabwe has always maintained a non-aggressive foreign policy based on advancement of Zimbabwe’s economic interests, protection of its sovereignty, the total liberation of oppressed peoples and advancing Pan Africanism.
The President’s delegation to the General Assembly speaks volume about his commitment to channel resources towards national development. Unlike the days of Mugabe when a big delegation would accompany the President to the UNGA, this time President Mnangagwa only took with him two key officials, the Minister of Finance and the RBZ Governor and a few aides. This points to the President leading by example in saving State resources.
Zimbabwe is indeed poised for interesting times economically. What remains to complete the puzzle is the cooperation of all stakeholders in Zimbabwe towards realising the dream of a middle-income economy by 2013.