ED foreign policy stance yields results
Nqobile Bhebhe, [email protected]
AT the onset of his presidency, President Mnangagwa made two profound pronouncements that have had a powerful impact on both foreign and domestic fronts.
These have continued to yield tangible results in the international political economy, bringing substantial benefits to the nation as a whole while cementing his legacy.
The “Zimbabwe is a friend to all and an enemy to none” stance signified that the country was ready to once more play a significant role in the international community and the “Zimbabwe is Open for Business,” philosophy largely defined President Mnangagwa’s first term in office.
These were not just cleverly crafted statements. Under his servant stewardship, the country has undergone rapid economic transformation through increased foreign and domestic investments, unprecedented infrastructure development, and the freeing up of democratic spaces.
Soon after his inauguration to mark the start of his first five years in office, President Mnangagwa who celebrates his 81st birthday today, hit the ground running and immediately introduced his foreign policy of engagement and re-engagement, stressing the issue of mutual respect.
The policy is meant to improve the country’s image through rebranding and strengthening international relations, particularly with the estranged Western countries, some of which imposed sanctions on the country.
The engagement and re-engagement policy has been pivotal in the country’s socio-economic, infrastructural and agricultural development.
President Mnangagwa introduced a raft of economic measures to open up the economy to both local and foreign investors. The strategy was calculated to lure investors and leverage Zimbabwe’s good climate and rich treasure of over 60 mineral resources which are yet to be tapped.
Delegations from Western capitals flocked to the country to scout for investment opportunities in virtually all sectors of the economy.
Various strategic engagements have resulted in the signing of numerous bilateral cooperation agreements and concrete investments in mining, agriculture and infrastructure development creating massive employment for locals.
Political commentators point to this year’s Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) as full proof that relations between Zimbabwe and the international community are thawing for the best, as evidenced by the high subscription of investors from foreign countries including the European Union bloc, the UK and the United States.
The US and the EU were exhibiting for the first time since they imposed illegal sanctions on Zimbabwe in 2001.
Reflecting on President Mnangagwa’s foreign policy thrust, Bulawayo-based political commentator, Mr Methuseli Moyo said the President is genuine about his desire to put Zimbabwe right in the centre of a community of nations, so as to unlock and promote mutually beneficial relations.
“Clearly the President has demonstrated beyond any reasonable doubt that he is genuine about his desire to put Zimbabwe right in the centre of a community of nations, so as to unlock and promote mutually beneficial relations,” said Mr Moyo.
“He has sought to engage everybody, starting from our former colonial master and friend-turned-foe, Britain. He has also looked to the West in America, while continuing to look East towards China, Russia, India and the rest.”
Mr Moyo added that the foreign policy stance is yielding immense benefits to the country.
He is of the view that the Second Republic should not abandon the engagement and re-engagement drive.
“We have seen from the major investments that have materialised, while more are showing good prospects. Yes, he must continue to engage and re-engage, until Zimbabwe reclaims its right status as a key member and friend to all in the community of nations. There is no other way. Like I said, the benefits are coming through the investments.”
During his recent inauguration following the August 23 polls, President Mnangagwa alluded to the economic benefits of the engagement and re-engagement policy.
At the birth of the Second Republic, Zimbabwe was already in the throes of debilitating power cuts across the economy. The country was struggling to generate enough power for its industrial and domestic consumption.
Zimbabwe requires around 2 000 megawatts against production at the time of around 940 megawatts. The deficit led to intermittent load-shedding.
However, President Mnangagwa embarked on a high-level visit to China in April 2018 and secured several multimillion-dollar deals including immediate funding for Hwange Thermal Power Station’s Units 7 and 8.
China has supported Zimbabwe in its pursuit for economic development and has stood by the country at international fora where it has opposed attempts by Western countries to interfere in its internal affairs.
In August this year, President Mnangagwa commissioned the two units which added 600 megawatts (MW) to the national grid with each unit having a net output of 300MW.
“On behalf of the Second Republic and indeed on behalf of the people of Zimbabwe, today we are witnessing the commissioning of unit 7 and 8 here at Hwange. The journey began in April 2018 when I visited China and I had a meeting with the President of China, my brother Xi Jinping. In that discussion, I had a list of over 10 projects, which I was shopping for his assistance and he chose to make a political decision to support us.
“Energy is a critical enabler for our industrialisation and modernisation,” President Mnangagwa said when he commissioned the units.
The drive to energy self-sufficiency is moving forward with the Head of State saying other units in Hwange are being rehabilitated, he told the nation during his recent inauguration.
“During the last five-year term, my Administration delivered energy self-sufficiency to our country. Courtesy of our comprehensive, strategic partnership with the People’s Republic of China, Hwange Unit 7 and Unit 8 are now on stream.
“We will now move on to upgrade Hwange Unit 1 to Unit 6, among other national strategic power generation stations.”
The President has also been marketing Zimbabwe as a safe investment destination during international forums.
For instance, speaking at a special event on the margins of the Africa Investment Forum Market Days 2022 in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, late last year, President Mnangagwa called on investors to realise the massive investment opportunities in Zimbabwe and shun negative perceptions of risk.
“The focus is to persuade global capital assembled in this city to realise that there are opportunities for investment in Zimbabwe,” he said.
“Our mission here is to explain ourselves, and assure investors that Zimbabwe is a safe investment destination.”
However, while the country is spearheading a noble foreign policy, President Mnangagwa has made it clear that Zimbabwe is a sovereign state and “a friend to all and enemy of none”.
“Our membership and engagement within SADC, the African Union and United Nations, and other countries in the comity of nations remain guided by the principles of mutual respect and the sovereign equality of nations, as enshrined in the United Nations Charter.
“The undermining of our national institutions and laws will not be condoned, under whatever guise. No country or group of persons should disregard the sovereign decisions and views of the people of our motherland, Zimbabwe.”
At his inauguration, he stressed that “we will never be second-class citizens in our own country. We stand ready to welcome those nations who want to work with the new ZANU PF Government to build lasting partnerships to make the world a better place.
“We look forward to joining both traditional and emerging global institutions who accept our hand of friendship.”
A Bulawayo resident, Mr Mordecai Nyasha Nhamo said President Mnangagwa is on the right path in taking the country into a new developmental stage where he is leaving no one and no place behind.
“As a Zimbabwean who has followed President Mnangagwa’s speeches, in my view, through him, the country is ready to work with anyone who will also conform to our expectations. I am confident that Zimbabwe has much to offer in the international sphere and we should rally behind our leader.”
Ends. Cleared YM.