PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa,, says Zimbabwe’s frosty relations with key European Union (EU) countries have improved markedly ever since his government embarked on its dogged re-engagement drive with the West.
Speaking ahead of Zimbabwe’s Independence celebrations at the weekend, Mnangagwa also said the government would continue to reach out to both the United Kingdom (UK) and the United States of America (USA) — despite London and Washington keeping their sanctions on the country in place.
“Our policy of engagement and re-engagement is bearing fruit. To date, the relations between Zimbabwe and the EU have drastically improved.
“Most of the sanctions and measures imposed by the EU have been removed and we have begun dialogue and co-operation both at a political level and trade and economic co-operation with several countries of the EU.
“Countries like France, Germany, Belgium, Italy and Spain … we are already having discussions and co-operation since the onset of the Second Republic,” Mnangagwa told State media.
“Of course, we still have countries like the United Kingdom and the United States of America who still continue to insist on the imposition of sanctions.
“But of course they have their surrogates in Zimbabwe who are persuading them to continue to impose sanctions … for reasons best known to themselves … Perhaps to ride on the suffering of the people of Zimbabwe for them to come to office.
“But we shall continue to pursue the policy that we would want, to be a friend of everybody and enemy of none,” Mnangagwa added.
“As a result … we continue, of course, to pursue diplomatically the issue of engaging and explaining that we mean no harm to anybody.
“The people of Zimbabwe are peaceful. We seek harmony … peace … unity … progress and we seek co-operation and integration freely into the community of nations,” he said further.
“The philosophy which we adopted as the Second Republic, that of engagement and re-engagement, is premised on the fact that we don’t seek enemies.
“We seek friends, and we are saying we would like the rest of the international community to be friendly to us.
“We are friendly to all, except those who may not accept us. But still we say to them there is no need for such hostility or imposition of sanctions. We want to be friends to all,” Mnangagwa also said.
This comes as the government has not received much joy so far in its bid to improve its frosty relations with London and Washington.
It also comes after Harare’s dealings with the West hit an all-time low after a then politically-pressured late former president Robert Mugabe embarked on chaotic land reforms two decades ago.
Western powers, and especially the USA and the UK, have maintained their sanctions against the country despite Mugabe’s ouster from power and his subsequent death — demanding that the government should fulfill all the reform promises that were made when Mnangagwa succeeded Mugabe in November 2017, following a stunning but widely-supported military coup.
However, the USA, UK and the EU have all affirmed their readiness in recent months to offer more support to Mnangagwa and his government, to improve the lives of ordinary Zimbabweans.
Speaking to the Daily News’s sister paper, the Daily News On Sunday last month, the EU’s head of delegation to Zimbabwe, Timo Olkkonen, reiterated that the bloc remained ready to work with the government to end the country’s myriad challenges.
Also speaking in an interview with the Daily News on Sunday in October last year, USA ambassador to Zimbabwe Brian Nichols said Washington remained ready to assist the country — as long as Mnangagwa and the government fulfilled the promises that were made after the dramatic fall from power of Mugabe.
In December, British Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Melanie Robinson, also said London had taken note of the positive law reforms that had been undertaken by Harare.
However, she warned, sanctions would remain in place if Zimbabwean authorities failed to commit to the promises that Mnangagwa made when he swept into office following Mugabe’s dramatic ouster via the popular military coup.
The UK subsequently announced further sanctions on security chiefs and a former military commander, over alleged human rights breaches.
All this also comes as Mnangagwa and his administration have been accused of blowing the international goodwill which followed the fall of Mugabe.
However, his government has also been credited with expunging some repressive laws from the statute books that were routinely used by the Mugabe regime to punish political opponents and independent media like the Daily News.
Among the laws that have been scrapped are the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) and Posa.
In addition, Mnangagwa has been praised for trying to end years of chaos in the agricultural sector by restoring farming rights that were taken away during Mugabe’s ruinous reign.
In this regard, the government recently signed a US$3,5 billion Global Compensation Agreement with white former commercial farmers, while also announcing that all farmers who lost their land protected by Bilateral Investment Protection and Promotion Agreements (BIPPAs) would either be compensated or have their land titles restored. – Daily News