CORDIAL engagement and re-engagement between the United Kingdom and Zimbabwe testify that the Second Republic is quietly working and making good progress in terms of re-engaging the world.
This comes as the UK has invited President Mnangagwa to attend the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change at the Scottish Event Campus in Glasgow next month, providing an opportunity for improving UK-Zimbabwe relations.
Ahead of the summit, which will bring together Heads of State and Government, climate experts and campaigners to agree on a coordinated action to tackle climate change, President Mnangagwa last week met with UK’s Ambassador to Zimbabwe Ms Melaine Robinson who later told reporters that her country was keen to improve ties with Zimbabwe.
The COP26 Summit will focus on accelerating action towards goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. The UK has been chosen to host the major event together with Italy.
Besides acting as a boost for the Second Republic’s engagement and re-engagement efforts, the President’s visit will also unlock trade opportunities with the Western world, which dovetails with Zimbabwe’s Vision 2030 and National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1).
The visit is also expected to boost Zimbabwe’s chances of making its case to the global community, including the British Foreign Office for the readmission into the international community, particularly the Commonwealth, from which it withdrew in 2003 at the height of a diplomatic tiff between Harare and London in December 2003.
In 2019, President Mnangagwa met Commonwealth secretary-general, Mrs Patricia Scotland, on the sidelines of the 74th United Nations General Assembly, where she expressed satisfaction with the reforms that Harare was instituting and implementing.
Political analysts said the President’s visit to Britain was a clear testimony the two countries sought to increase trade ties.
Britain is keen to increase trade with Zimbabwe now that it is free of the European Union (EU) and can make deals around the world outside the framework of the bloc.
Zimbabwe has since ratified an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the UK.
The EPA allows Zimbabwean exporters to continue enjoying tariff and quota-free access to the UK market, laying the foundation for a strong trade partnership in the future.
The total trade in goods and services — both exports and imports — between Britain and Zimbabwe in the four quarters to end of the second quarter of 2020 was US$412 million.
Academic and researcher Mr Alex Munyonga said the Second Republic had often been harangued internally and globally as a theoretical Government, but the invitation of Zimbabwe to the Conference of parties (COP26) to be hosted by the UK testifies to the success of the country’s reforms.
“The courtesy visit to President Mnangagwa by the British Ambassador to Zimbabwe did not come as a surprise given the European Union’s testimony about blooming socio-economic outlook of Zimbabwe”.
The West, he said, was realising the need of being an all-weather friend with Zimbabwe lest some European, Asian countries and other proactive nations occupy strategic socio-economic and political positions in Zimbabwe.
“President Mnangagwa’s invitation to the UK signals the dawning of symmetrical relations between Zimbabwe and the UK. UK’s past uncompromisingly venomous approach to Zimbabwe’s re-engagement efforts is thawing. The interest in mending relations is coming at a time when most Asian and other non-European countries are clinching multi-million-dollar investment opportunities. It, therefore, follows that, by maintaining a rigid stance there is a sense in which the UK and its Western allies may lose strategic investment opportunities in Zimbabwe’s ubiquitous human and natural resources,” said Mr Munyonga.
The UK, he said, has to strategically position herself in the light of the cruising Zimbabwean socio-economic ship.
“Otherwise, there is no benefit in remaining rigid and passive spectators as the Zimbabwean socio-economic-political drama unfolds.”
The socio-economic-political lenses that the UK is now gazing at Zimbabwe are being refined day by day as the Second Republic continues with its praxis approach to national development and global engagement and re-engagement drive.
Mr Munyonga added: “By abandoning a masculine portrayal of itself and a feminine presentation of Zimbabwe, the UK has demonstrated praiseworthy political maturity. Thumbs up to the Second Republic for remaining resolute amid corrosive criticisms. With the socio-economic-political compass that Zimbabwe is taking Vision 2030 will be real and never a drill, it is prudent to be part of Zimbabwe’s socioeconomic and political history-making especially after decades of boiling tempers between Zimbabwe and the UK.”
Another political analyst Mr Godwin Mukandiwa weighed in saying the invitation, the first in over two decades is a giant stride towards the restoration of bilateral relations between the two countries by His Excellency.
“Zimbabwe has been strained for the past years but with the coming of the visionary leadership of His Excellency President Mnangagwa, the Zimbabwean economy is destined for recovery and growth,” said Mr Mukandiwa.
An economist, Mr Caution Torovei said the development comes as the two countries’ diplomatic ties intensify, which dovetails into President Mnangagwa’s engagement and re-engagement drive.
“The EPA with Britain ratified allows Zimbabwean exporters access to UK markets free of tariffs and quotas and is expected to boost trade and investment between the two countries as Government’s re-engagement drive continues to bear fruit,” he said.
South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Eswatini, Lesotho, and Mozambique signed the same EPA trade deal with the UK.
Another political analyst Mr Believe Mubonderi said President Mnangagwa’s visit is confirmation that the two countries want to move forward and no longer remain at odds forever.
“It’s a plus for the improving diplomatic relations between the two countries and could further result in more trade with regards to the Brexit issue,” he said.
“Considering what has happened in the past politically and economically, both countries need this improved relation to trigger more opportunities for Zimbabwe and even for Britain and European markets. In a way, it’s confirmation of the Second Republic’s mantra that Zimbabwe is Open for Business, and enemy to non but a friend to all,” said Mr Mubonderi.
Of late, Britain has been deporting Zimbabweans with criminal records in that country, a normal process and a sign of a shift in policy by London, which has over the years given sanctuary to the criminals, who often lied that they would face persecution in Zimbabwe.