For the first time since the inception of the United States-Africa summit in 2014, Zimbabwe will be represented at the indaba that will be held in Washington DC from December 15-16 with the country set to take advantage of the invitation to engage the US on its sanctions regime that has strangulated economic activity.
The invitation to Zimbabwe signals a change of heart in most Western nations, including the United States, which has until now closed the door to the country.
Its change of heart follows in the footsteps of the European Union, which has been warming up to the Second Republic’s foreign policy of engagement and re-engagement, underpinned by dialogue to resolve disputes.
This milestone in Zimbabwe-US relations is traceable to President Mnangagwa, who, since coming to power in 2017, has unequivocally declared that the country “is a friend to all and an enemy to none”.
Already countries in the EU have removed most of the illegal economic sanctions that were imposed at the instigation of Britain at the turn of the millennium following the historic land reform programme.
Significantly, Zimbabwe will use the summit to re-engage with the US, break new diplomatic ground and seek to chart new course underpinned by mutual respect for the benefit of the peoples of the two nations.
At the summit, President Mnangagwa will be represented by Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Ambassador Frederick Shava.
The meeting is expected to foster new economic engagement, advance peace, security, and good governance, seeks ways of working collaboratively to strengthen regional and global health security and promote food security.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade spokesperson Mr Levit Mugejo said Zimbabwe will take advantage of the summit to re-engage the US and normalise relations.
“Participation at the summit is a result of the President’s re-engagement thrust, we welcome the invitation and will use it to underscore the need to remove the illegal sanctions and invite the US to walk with us as we have turned a new page,” he said.
According to the organisers, the summit seeks to serve as a demonstration of President Joe Biden’s commitment to the African continent and provide a forum for new joint initiatives between the US and countries in Africa.
Approximately 50 Heads of State and senior government officials from African countries are expected to attend the summit.
Ahead of the summit, President Biden said: “I look forward to working with African governments, civil society, diaspora communities across the United States, and the private sector to continue strengthening our shared vision for the future of US-Africa relations”.
Political analyst Mr Alex Munyonga said the invitation that has been extended to Zimbabwe is clear testimony of the success of one of President Mnangagwa’s pillar policies.
“The invitation of Zimbabwe to the US-Africa summit is a signal to the thawing relations between Zimbabwe and the US. The invitation and willingness of the US to dialogue with Zimbabwe through the US-Africa summit proves that ‘nascent diplomatic foes’ are now finding each other and becoming ‘diplomatic bedfellows’.
“The US President’s cordial approach in interacting with Zimbabwe proves that the Second Republic of Zimbabwe is making inroads in engaging with all those willing across the globe. It shows that the engagement and re-engagement drive by Zimbabwe has pushed the US and its allies to introspect and realise that sanctions against Zimbabwe are just some form of bullying for unfounded claims,” said Mr Munyonga.
The summit will include new initiatives to increase US engagement with the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), as well as initiatives to boost the continent’s recovery from COVID-19, bolster food security and promote investment in infrastructure, health and renewable energy projects, among other priorities.
The forum will also include interactions with civil society, multilateral meetings between President Biden and African Heads of State, secretary and cabinet-level meetings for trade, energy and diplomacy, and a collection of industry-focused meetings under the purviews of the US-Africa Business Forum.