Diplomatic shuttle: Chinamasa to meet French Foreign Affairs Minister

Minister of State in the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne

PARIS – Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, French minister of state attached to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, will host Patrick Chinamasa, Zimbabwe’s Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, who is serving as President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s special envoy.

Mindful of the expectations raised by the political transition in Zimbabwe, France, along with its European partners, says it was pleased to take note of the commitments undertaken by President Mnangagwa concerning the holding of general elections in the summer of 2018 that will be free, calm, and transparent, characterized by a respect for human rights and the economic reform program.

This meeting will provide an opportunity to take stock of the political and economic situation in Zimbabwe and the prospects heralded by this election.

Earlier this week Britain’s Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Boris Johnson has met Zimbabwe’s Finance and Economic Planning minister Patrick Chinamasa, pictured, to discuss bilateral issues and the forthcoming general elections.

Johnson held talks with Chinamasa and other officials in London on Monday, where the UK’s foreign chief stressed Britain’s support for fair polls and expressed hope about the future.

The sudden and rapid developments in Zimbabwe late last year, which saw the military essentially remove former president Robert Mugabe and subsequently elevate Emmerson Mnangagwa to the top post, have ushered in a new opportunity for the country to achieve its economic potential as a powerhouse in the region.

Since his inauguration, Mnangagwa has said Zimbabwe is “open for business” and will seek to rejoin the Commonwealth.

Mnangagwa has also praised British Prime Minister Theresa May’s enthusiastic approach to his new government, saying that his country always got on well with British women prime ministers.

Chinamasa met with the UK’s top foreign chief Johnson, where they discussed about free and fair elections among other issues.

“Good to welcome (Patrick) Chinamasa, Zimbabwe’s Special Envoy to the UK, to @ForeignOffice today. Great hope and optimism for Zimbabwe’s future, we discussed need for free & fair elections this year & opportunities ahead of us,” Johnson wrote on his Twitter account, soon after meeting with Chinamasa.

This comes after Britain’s Africa minister Harriett Baldwin, on her recent visit to Zimbabwe, revealed that her government had released £5 million to non-governmental organisations to promote democracy in Zimbabwe.

Commenting on Johnson’s tweet, a member of the Welshman Ncube-led opposition MDC, David Coltart, said the UK envoy must take time to listen to the poll concerns of the people of Zimbabwe.

“I trust that @BorisJohnson will also take time to hear the views of people other than from Zanu PF regarding whether conditions exist in #Zimbabwe for free and fair elections.

“The Constitution is still being flagrantly violated as I tweet,” Coltart said.

Elections in the country have not been entirely free and fair for close to 20 years and in some cases, such as in 2008, were blatantly stolen.

There has been mounting calls on Zanu PF to lay off the institutionalised rigging and intimidation and try to run a free and fair poll — a move that is likely to see foreign interest in the country surging.

Chinamasa in 2016 proposed an arrears repayment plan at the IMF/World Bank annual meetings in Lima in Peru where consensus was reached with creditors on a repayment strategy which entailed the clearance of the country’s $1,8 billion arrears.

Relations between the UK and Zimbabwe have moved to a new level since the fall of Mugabe as London seeks to revive ties with a key ally in southern Africa.

Diplomatic ties between the UK and Zimbabwe soured during the turn of the century over charges that former president Mugabe’s ruling Zanu PF party had rigged elections and used violence to cling to power.