The Sunday Mail
On Valentines’ Day last week, Zimbabwe received an unusual present from the European Union.
Ordinarily, while the day — which is emblematic of love — is usually associated with heavenly-scented roses, Harare got thorns instead of rose petals.
In its wisdom, the 28-member bloc decided to renew sanctions against individuals and entities in Zimbabwe ostensibly because of alleged recent “State-sponsored violence”.
It seems fortuitous that the pronouncement comes one month to the day — January 14 — when the MDC-Alliance, which was nailed by the Kgalema Motlanthe-led commission for the August 1 2018 violence that claimed six lives, again instigated violent demonstrations that left an extensive trail of destruction in its wake.
But the EU are laggards: Washington had long nailed its colours to the mast by renewing Zidera on August 9 2018 — 10 days after the July 30 elections.
The temptation is to believe that Brussels and Washington have taken the moral high ground. Or have they?
If that were the case, Washington and Brussels would have rained fire and brimstone on Riyadh (Saudi Arabia) after the gruesome assassination of Washington Post columnist Jamal Kashoggi in the Saudi Arabian embassy in Ankara, Turkey.
Suffice to say, global diplomacy is now synonymous with strategic national interests. One has to take Zimbabwe’s current unenviable circumstances within the context of new geopolitical dynamics, which are prompted by the rise of two global superpowers — Russia and China.
The unipolar world, which has subsisted since the collapse of the USSR in December 26 1991, is slowly giving a new multipolar world. Quite frankly, both Democrats and Republications are currently feeling threatened by the emerging new world order.
This is precisely the reason why Beijing has had to contend with extortionate tariffs, while Moscow is battling sanctions.
But this is where it gets scary.
Moscow is faring well even under sanctions.
In August last year, US-based credit ratings firm, Fitch Ratings, noted that Russia had a positive outlook on Russia because of “continued progress in strengthening the economic policy framework underpinned by a more flexible exchange rate, a strong commitment to inflation-targeting and a prudent fiscal strategy”.
This is making Washington uneasy, and such unease has sparked a scramble for strategic positions around the world.
Developments in Djibouti (where there is a scramble to control the port that is strategic for global trade), Venezuela and Zimbabwe, which is centrally located in Southern Africa region, are quite instructive.
That the US is prepared to spend $200 million on a listening post — nay, embassy — in Harare should be telling enough.
Washington and Brussels, however, say for Zimbabwe to regularise its relations with them, the Zanu-PF Government should dialogue with the opposition, and not just any opposition, but the MDC-Alliance.
And they expect no other arrangement than a Government of National Unity (GNU). How absurd.
But this is not surprising in view of the new “camel-nose” diplomacy that is being pursued by the West, where a small, seemingly innocuous act will open the door for larger, clearly undesirable actions.
Far from being a Trojan Horse, the MDC-Alliance has now mutated to a Camel Nose. So, whither Zimbabwe?
Well, as the President hinted yesterday, the country will not continue moaning interminably, but will be pragmatic in pushing for mutual beneficial relations in its engagement and re-engagement.
It is clear that the sanction-busting route that has been taken by Moscow through prudential fiscal management is the same that is now being pursued by Harare. Step-by-step and block-by-block, the country is slowly finding its feet.
What is encouraging is that even the most conservative forecast released by the World Bank on January 18 this year expects the country’s economy to grow by 3,7 percent this year, which is more than 3,1 percent projected in the 2019 National Budget.
The rate is marginally higher than the estimated regional average of 3,4 percent.
But critics and detractors will always be with us, but their negative energy will not count for much.
Just as Theodre Roosevelt, the 26th president of the US, said in 1910: “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”