ED set to address UNGA 2018

by Ashely Kondo

President Emmerson Mnangagwa, on Wednesday, departed Harare for New York, United States (US), where he is scheduled to attend and address the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) 73rd session for the first time since he took over the reins from Zimbabwe’s longest serving former President, Robert Mugabe.

The annual UNGA convention is the “chief deliberative, policymaking and representative organ of the United Nations” comprising 192 member states, including Zimbabwe.

The thrust of the convention is to provide a unique forum for multilateral discussion of the full spectrum of international issues covered by the Charter of the United Nations of 1945.

In his address at the UNGA last year (2017),  former President (Mugabe) implored member states, particularly, super powers such as the US to take the issue of climate change seriously and to unite with other member states in tackling the man-aided phenomenon.

Nevertheless, President Mnangagwa is likely to set a new tone for Zimbabwe at UNGA.

Since November 2017, and the subsequent 30 July 2018 harmonised elections, Zimbabwe’s diplomatic offensive has taken a new impetus  with more focus being directed at establishing and nurturing mutually beneficial synergies and partnerships with key players in world economics.

Using the mantra “Zimbabwe is open for business”, President Mnangagwa has been relentless in his efforts to turn around the country’s economic misfortunes.

This has seen the new dispensation adopting a multipronged approach in order to deal with the various challenges affecting the country, including embarking on a robust re-engagement drive in a bid to lure investors.  

The UNGA 2018 meeting presents a great opportunity for Zimbabwe to reintegrate with the international community.

Often, member states of the UN have used this platform to influence and shape world politics.

For instance, issues affecting internal and external relations of member states would be brought before the house.

A case in point for Zimbabwe, over the years, has seen the imposition of sanctions, especially by European countries.

Although a number of countries have begun to warm up to Zimbabwe under the new dispensation into the Second Republic, some countries like the US continue to stifle prospects for cordial and productive ties.

Just last month (August 2018) President Trump extended the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Amendment (ZIDERA) Act, which forbids Zimbabwe to trade with and access loan facilities to pay off the national debt from the US.

The Act directs US Executive Directors of International Financial Institutions to oppose the vote against any extension by respective institutions of any loan, credit, or guarantee to the Government of Zimbabwe; or any cancellation or reduction of indebtedness owed by the Government of Zimbabwe to the United States of America or any International Financial Institution.

European regional block, the European Union (EU) has also extended its sanctions on Zimbabwe until 20 February 2019, despite the fact that some individual member states in the block such as Germany and the United Kingdom are gradually warming up to Zimbabwe.

It remains to be seen if President Mnangagwa would highlight the rather unfortunate and counter-productive position of “big brother”, US, and the EU.  

Perhaps the President would turn a blind eye and deaf ear on the machinations of those that continue to despise Zimbabwe and embrace those amenable to the country’s current challenges.  

Nevertheless, Zimbabwe cannot afford to operate in isolation due to globalisation and it is expected that the 73rd UNGA session would give Zimbabwe the much needed socio-economic and political impetus for the realisation of her vision for the future.