By Tendai Mugabe
President Mnangagwa’s administration is making headway in taking Zimbabwe onto the global arena, with the President this week expected to receive a special envoy from British Prime Minister Theresa May to discuss issues of mutual interest between the two countries.
The discussions will touch on several economic issues, including Zimbabwe’s possible return to the Commonwealth. It will be the third time President Mnangagwa is hosting a British envoy in less than three months, signalling London’s seriousness to thaw frosty relations with Harare.
The first was British Minister for Africa Rory Stewart who met President Mnangagwa a few hours after his inauguration on November 24, last year. He was followed by Sir Simon Gerard McDonald who is Permanent Under-Secretary at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Head of the Diplomatic Service.
The engagements are in line with President Mnangagwa’s sentiments in his inaugural speech that Zimbabwe was charting a new path that embraces all countries of the world.
This, President Mnangagwa said, would allow Zimbabwe to catch up with other countries in terms of economic development.
Addressing journalists yesterday after landing at Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport from his African Union engagements in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and, before that, the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, President Mnangagwa reiterated that Zimbabwe was open for business for both local and global investors.
Said President Mnangagwa: “I had 30 or 40 minutes interview with BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) and I really had (a) broad interview with them not only in relation to the transition, but in relation to broad issues like the Commonwealth, the issues of relations between us and Britain. I am aware that the current British Prime Minister Theresa May is sending an envoy during the course of the first week of February, so most of the issues will be ironed out at meeting.”
The British envoy is coming in the wake of another confirmed high-profile visit to Harare by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to cement bilateral relations between Harare and Moscow.
Minister Lavrov’s visit was confirmed by Russian acting ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Dmitry Korepanov after he met Cde Simon Khaya Moyo last week when the latter was the acting Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.
In Davos, President Mnangagwa said many stakeholders at the forum were keen to meet his delegation, but they only managed to engage those key to Zimbabwe’s current economic situation.
“We were well received,” he said.
“In fact, all the delegations who attended Davos lined up in terms of requests to meet the Zimbabwean delegation. We were not able to see all the requests which these delegations made. But to some extent we did meet the most important delegations, which we felt it was necessary for Zimbabwe to relate. It was exceedingly successful.”
President Mnangagwa said in Ethiopia he met a group of Zimbabwean professionals who expressed their willingness to come back home and exploit opportunities presented by the new dispensation.
“The group that (we) addressed in Addis Ababa from Zimbabwe was a smallish group of persons but they are enthusiastic about coming home and making a contribution. Most of them (are) professionals, not business people,” he said.
“We did invite them and say come home you will find yourself a way to fit yourselves in the unfolding graph of our economy, unfolding enthusiasm for modernising our economy and industrialisation of (our) country.”
Meanwhile, the President has thanked Zimbabwean businessmen whi chartered a plane for him to Davos and Addis Ababa as part of their support towards the Zimbabwean Government’s re-engagement efforts.