Claver Nyuki Correspondent
Upon his ascendancy to the Presidency of Zimbabwe, President Mnangagwa quickly made known his ambition to project a different path to the one set by his predecessor, Robert Mugabe.
President Mnangagwa identified key areas that needed improvement and improved relations with the international community including the West, which had long been blacklisted by the old dispensation, topped the list. The re-engagement policy was therefore born and took centre stage.
President Mnangagwa’s administration also pinpointed the need for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to kick start the country’s ailing economy and coined the ‘Zimbabwe is open for business’ mantra which sought to market Zimbabwe as a safe investment hub to the world. This was born out of the realisation that the country could not mend its economy on its own without the much needed capital from foreign investors.
Highlighting critical areas alone was not going to be enough and President Mnangagwa and his administration immediately embarked on economic and political reforms to complement the re-engagement and market drive.
Strides were made in freeing up media space towards the 2018 harmonised elections and opposition parties got coverage on State media, something which was unheard of in the past. During previous elections, the opposition, mainly the MDC complained of alleged violence, intimidation, abductions and torture during the election campaign seasons, but the 2018 elections saw all political parties being allowed space to conduct meetings and rallies without any interference leading to the highest number of Presidential candidates since independence. The MDC leader, Nelson Chamisa, for example, addressed over 70 campaign rallies throughout Zimbabwe including rural areas which were previously no-go areas for the opposition.
These genuine reforms and President Mnangagwa’s willingness to include and engage with everyone despite their political affiliation in driving the country forward has earned the support of not only locals, but regional, continental and international community.
During the just ended 39th SADC summit, member states of the bloc unanimously agreed that the illegal sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by the West were now outdated and declared the 25th of October as the day the member states will collectively voice their disapproval of the continuation of the punitive measures through various activities and platforms until sanctions are lifted.
The planned move exalts President Mnangagwa’s domestic and foreign policy since assuming office.
The 39th SADC Summit communiqué partly read, “Summit noted the adverse impact on the economy of Zimbabwe and the region at large of prolonged economic sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe and expressed solidarity with Zimbabwe, and called for the immediate lifting of sanctions to facilitate socio-economic recovery in the country.
“Summit declared the 25 October as the date on which SADC member states can collectively voice their disapproval of the sanctions through various activities and platforms until the sanctions are lifted.”
SADC country leaders have also been quoted on different platforms, condemning the continued sanctions on Zimbabwe, highlighting that they affect the economic development of all countries in the region. President of Namibia, Dr Hage Geingob said, “SADC expresses its solidarity with the Government and the people of the Republic of Zimbabwe, and calls upon the international community to unconditionally lift all sanctions imposed on the country.”
Rwandan President, Paul Kagame, during his reign as African Union (AU) Chair, denounced the sanctions and implored the West to remove the sanctions in order for Zimbabwe to be able to implement effective reforms with the necessary support.
He said, “Give them (Zimbabwe) time or even allow them the tools. If you are saying, we want you to change and at the same time they are under sanctions, when you are under sanctions you are being denied the tools to apply to actually change the situation.”
Even South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa, has on various platforms called for the lifting of sanctions against Zimbabwe as they stand in the way of the country’s development.
Outside the continent, the European Union (EU) has also appreciated the improvements and achievements of President Mnangagwa and his administration and has relaxed some of its restrictions on Zimbabwe, a clear sign that the efforts of the new Government are not going unnoticed.
Zimbabwe, under the leadership of President Mnangagwa, is clearly going in the right direction and the open support of SADC and AU is a clear indication that genuine economic and political reforms are being implemented.
The West, including hard-liners such as the United States (US) should embrace President Mnangagwa’s efforts and accept his extended hand of friendship as the new dispensation is all about renewed mutual beneficial relations based on mutual respect for each other in order to achieve the country’s vision of a middle class economy by 2030.
SADC’s stance on the sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe is very encouraging and laudable and many progressive citizens look forward to witnessing other continental blocs such as the East African Community (EAC) also throwing their weight behind Zimbabwe on the matter.