The Sunday Mail
Zimbabwe will ratchet up its foreign policy activities this year under a framework anchored on consolidating international engagements, enhancing corporation with Zimbabweans living abroad and unlocking new trade opportunities.
Speaking to The Sunday Mail last Thursday, Foreign Affairs and International Trade secretary Ambassador James Manzou said President Emmerson Mnangagwa had set re-engagement with the international community as a priority of the Second Republic.
He said Zimbabwe had been in isolation for many years and needed to take its place in the global family of nations.
“We want to focus on engagement and re-engagement with the global community, increasing trade and investment as well as working together with our people living outside the country,” said Ambassador Manzou.
“These are the mandates which we have given to our diplomatic missions. So largely, our missions will be judged and evaluated on these three pillars.
“This is the framework that you will see the ministry running with. Our chief diplomat remains the President and he is the one who has given us this direction.”
Ambassador Manzou said under the re-engagement drive, Zimbabwe would build on successes recorded in 2018. Some of the notable strides made in the past year include initiating the process to re-join the Commonwealth and abandoning anti-west rhetoric that was synonymous with former president Mr Robert Mugabe.
“We made some strides in 2018 in terms of engaging and re-engaging the world. Our focus in 2019 is consolidating those gains,” said Ambassador Manzou:
He said the country cannot continue to ignore Zimbabweans living abroad who have a greater role in nation building.
Ambassador Manzou said his Ministry had given a directive to Zimbabwe’s embassies worldwide to fully engage in economic diplomacy to attract investors and enhance trade.
“This dovetails with the Zimbabwe is Open for Business campaign and vibrant economic diplomacy is part of our drive to ensure that our embassies justify their presence where they are,” he said.
On plan by Government to rationalise embassies, Ambassador Manzou said the move was in line with austerity measures currently being pursued by President Mnangagwa’s administration.
“The plan is to align the missions to the objectives of the new dispensation. Details of how it is going to be done will be given out,” he said.
Announcing the 2019 national budget in November, Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube said Government resolved to reduce the number of foreign missions to optimise the utility value realised from the remaining missions.
Zimbabwe has 46 embassies and consulates, staffed by around 581 people from home and others recruited in the respective countries.