President Mnangagwa a man on a mission

Staff Reporter

Thе еngagеmеnt and rе-еngagеmеnt policy has bееn in thе forеfront of Zimbabwеan diplomacy. Thе Zimbabwеan Govеrnmеnt in 2017 announcеd that it will try to rе-еngagе and engage countries that once had relations with Zimbabwe and other new states.

Thе thеn Ministеr of Forеign Affairs and Intеrnational Tradе, thе latе Sibusiso Moyo together with his dеlеgation visitеd London in 2019 for a re-еngagеment meeting.  Thеsе еfforts by thе Zimbabwеan Govеrnmеnt continue to be stiflеd by thе sanctions that London kееps imposing on Zimbabwе. In еssеncе this shows that rеlations bеtwееn Hararе and London arе sour but with diplomacy thе rеlations may changе. Thus, thе powеr of diplomacy should not bе undеr еstimatеd as in thе global arеna thеrе arе no pеrmanеnt friеnds or еnеmiеs but pеrmanеnt intеrеsts. This also dovetails with Zimbabwe’s foreign policy, ' a friend to all and enemy to none'.

The mantra "Zimbabwe is open for business" is part of President Mnangagwa's motto which speaks more about economic diplomacy. The phrase "new dispensation" emphasised the link between growing international contacts and efforts to eliminate economic isolation and dependence, hence the integration of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, there by establishing a clear link between foreign affairs and economic policy in the promotion ot economic diplomacy. Existing efforts have clearly shown that the Government is generating the required impetus to rebuild the country's connections with other African states and turn around the country's economic fortunes.

President Mnangagwa took the Dakar 2 Feed Africa Summit as an opportunity to meet Kenyan President William Ruto. The two Heads of State discussed issues on Agriculture with particular interest in the Horticulture sector an area that Kenya has been doing well. In so doing the relations between Zimbabwe and Kenya are on another level as Kenya can see Zimbabwe as an investment destination especially in the agriculture sector. If this comes to fruition, it will see an improvement in the agro-business sector and technology transfer. Zimbabwe Kenya relations can be boosted by establishing and strengthening ties in the mining and tourism sectors which can generate foreign currency for Zimbabwe.

The discussion between President Ruto and President Mnangagwa touched on how they can use the African Continental Free Trade Area to their advantage. In this light Zimbabwe and Kenya could use the recent African Union Free Movement of Person Protocol to enhance economic development. The Free Movement of Persons Protocol which is a parallel initiative of the African Continental Free Trade Area was designed to reduce the barriers to Africans crossing African borders. This move could see African states having the strongest economy in the world, as regional integration will lead to a more successful Africa. As if this is not enough the free movement entails that there will free labour movement leading to professional labour exchange across borders.

On the other hand, the Second Republic received a major boost in its effort to forge economic diplomacy with other countries, through a visit by President Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus, from the 30th of January 2023 to 1 February 2023, where he met His Excellency President Emmerson Mnangagwa. This was a historic first time visit by the Belarusian President is to the Sub-Saharan county.  The main purpose of the visit was to strengthen diplomatic ties between Zimbabwe and Belarus which were established in 1992.

The visit by President Lukashenko saw the signing of eight Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) in various sectors of the economy. The diplomatic ties between Zimbabwe and Belarus have been characterised by economic investment, and the buses which have resuscitated ZUPCO and has helped in improving the transport system in Zimbabwe. It is without a doubt that the re-engagement and engagement agenda is yielding fruit as it is anticipated that the visit by President Lukashenko will open new doors for investment in the country.

President Mnangagwa recently attended the 36th Ordinary Session of the African Union (AU) running under the theme The year of AFCTA, acceleration of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCTA). During this Summit President Mnangagwa urged other African countries to ratify the AFCTA protocol so that African countries will stop depending on Western countries for trade as they will be able to effectively trade internally.

All these efforts by President Mnangagwa are to show the international community, other international institutions and non-State actors that Zimbabwe is open for business. Every stance taken by the second republic is to develop Zimbabwe and make sure the country attains an upper middle income economy by 2030.