The Sunday News
ZIMBABWE’S foreign policy under the Second Republic has unfolded under our desire to engage and re-engage.
Engagement has enabled us to broaden our embrace beyond the scope and geography of traditional diplomacy, thereby cultivating new friendships and partnerships.
Re-engagement has allowed us to win back old friends and partners we had lost over the years for various reasons, including those related to our determination to recover our land, and to pursue a nationally-minded, independent foreign policy.
Both these initiatives have actualised our sworn persuasion and desire to become a country which is a friend to all nations and an enemy to none.
In our quest and effort to engage and re-engage, we have foregrounded transactional diplomacy which puts economic interests at the top, and which requires that we make our country open for business. To that end, we have made several reforms, all of them aimed at attracting both domestic and foreign capital.
All these considerations sum up the whys and wherefores of our diplomacy. I am very happy that 2022 is set to end on a high and therefore happy note insofar as our diplomacy is concerned.
Barely two weeks ago, we played host to a Commonwealth assessment mission. The purpose of that Mission was to gauge our readiness to re-join the Commonwealth Club, thereby fulfilling one goal of our re-engagement policy.
Beyond the economic, trade and skills benefits we stand to derive from our re-joining the Commonwealth family of nations, there is much to be got when we push for and pursue our global interests as a broad bloc of like-minded nations with a shared past and convergent set of values.
Zimbabwe stands to profit from belonging to many groupings in the world, and using such groupings all the time to increase her clout globally.
It is this goal which is motivating us to make similar overtures to BRICS, with the ultimate objective of becoming a worthwhile member.
Zimbabwe’s vastly improved rating in global circles is evident in how our candidature to various international bodies continues to succeed on the back of multinational support spanning across the ideological spectrum.
Our consolidated position in Sadc and the African Union has enabled us to use our membership to mobilise global support for our nationals vying for various posts in international organisations.
For that reason, we have secured leadership positions in many organisations, foremost the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) and in the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). Next year will see us hosting several international conferences for various global agencies. Our global profile thus continues to rise.
I am in constant communication with our all-weather friends, principally the top leadership of the People’s Republic of China, and of the Russian Federation. The People’s Republic of China, with which we enjoy Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, continues to register a strong footprint in our country’s economy.
Several iconic projects have either concluded or are underway. Just last week, the new, majestic Parliament Building built for us by the Chinese government under a generous grant opened its doors to business.
Earlier in the year, I was in Davos, Switzerland, where our delegation made a strong showing. Back home, I continue to receive goodwill and business missions from different corners of the globe.
On our African continent, several Summits, most notably that on African green revolution held in Kigali, Rwanda; that on investments in national and continental value chains which convened in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, and, only a few days ago, the Summit on African Industrialisation, which we held in Niamey, Niger — all these confirmed the important role we now play as a development thought-leader and a source of best practices for our peer nations on the continent.
Particularly noteworthy is the remarkable diplomatic warmth now between us the European Union (EU), achieved in so short a time.
Only last week, the EU bloc launched its “Team Europe”, a new rubric under which the 27 countries comprising the bloc will co-ordinate and consolidate relations with us, this time through Government, and in line with, and in support of our priorities under Government’s National Development Strategy 1, NDS1. This is the first time that the EU has disbursed directly to Zimbabwe through structures of our Government.
All along, relations were being conducted asymmetrically and unconventionally through non-governmental organisations.
The bloc has already announced a Euro 400 million facility to run for next couple of years, including to the private sector through its European Investment Bank (EIB).
Over and above releasing US$47 million to our Ministry of Health and Child Care, and to our Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) only last week, the EU has pledged to support our programmes under NDS1 focusing on two critical areas of Gender Equality and Women Empowerment, and that of Greener and Climate Smart Agriculture.
Who would have dreamt of such significant practical interventions by the European bloc only a few months back?
I want to acknowledge and applaud the salutary role played by the new EU Ambassador, His Excellency Jobst von Kirchmann.
It was only recently, on 12 October 2022, that I received him at State House. Yet he has been able to steer our relations in a new, positive direction in so short a time.
Judging by what His Excellency von Kirchmann has been able to do in less than two months since his arrival in our country, and reflecting on the positive meeting I had in Glasgow, Scotland, during COP26 in 2021 with the President of the European Council, Mister Charles Michel, I am in no doubt that Zimbabwe-European Union relations have now opened a new chapter.
We must build on this to ensure that this newly-forged amity deepens and consolidates irrevocably. Indeed, diplomats are despatched to rebuild bridges by consolidating bilateral relations for the mutual benefit of cooperating countries and blocs.
My hope that our diplomacy is set to scale to better heights in the coming year are well-founded. In a couple of weeks’ time, in early December, our Foreign Minister, Dr Frederick Shava, will represent our country at the forthcoming United States-Africa Summit, which takes place in Washington, and to which Zimbabwe is being invited for the first time.
It is my hope that the United States government will look ahead and to the future, rather than looking behind to our troubled and divided past, at this Summit.
Hurtful, illegal sanctions do not pass for diplomacy; if anything, they negate and fail it. We must use all channels and avenues available between our two nations to re-engage, to break new ground and to embrace each other.
My fellow countrymen and women, we strengthen our diplomacy abroad by consolidating our state of affairs here at home. Our politics must remain peaceful. Our economy has to continue to grow so we become a worthy partner in hallways of engagement and re-engagement.
I am happy that amidst the ensuing global economic turbulence, we have continued to hold our own, including ensuring we consolidate the three lead sectors for our recovery and growth, namely agriculture, mining and tourism. As the EU’s 2021-27 Multi Annual Indicative Programme clearly shows, agriculture in this era of climate change and climate proofing is going to be an important plank for international engagement and international diplomacy.
Equally, our growing stature as a global mining powerhouse, particularly in strategic minerals, certainly will consolidate our global diplomacy by making us a valued partner.
The Muzarabani oil and gas deposits, which are now a proven resource, have imparted a new profile to us by making Zimbabwe an energy nation. The massive deposits in lithium right across our national territory make us a significant player in the global quest for a transition to a new, clean energy era and civilisation.
These strategic finds are in addition to numerous key minerals like gold, diamonds, platinum and iron which we have in abundance, and which the world needs.
Moving forward in the new year which is now upon us, all our natural resources like minerals and tourist attractions must be mobilised for full spectrum diplomacy, including using these and international boardrooms to change narratives on our nation.