The Sunday Mail
DIPLOMATIC relations between the United Kingdom and Zimbabwe have been escalated to the highest political level, breaking a two-decade long impasse in a major breakthrough for Harare’s re-engagement drive.
President Mnangagwa last week engaged British Prime Minister Mr Boris Johnson on the margins of the ongoing 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland, where the two leaders informally agreed to foster greater understanding.
This comes as similar engagements between the President and other Western leaders including United States president Mr Joe Biden in Glasgow helped trigger a new dawn for diplomatic relations between Zimbabwe and the West.
The President’s informal engagement with Mr Biden helped lay the foundation for further formalised dialogue.
Briefing The Sunday Mail on the outcome of President Mnangagwa’s historic visit to the UK, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Ambassador Frederick Shava said all sides were in agreement that the land reform question was no longer a stumbling block to mending relations.
“Zimbabwe’s participation at COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland was a demonstration of the British government’s readiness to engage Zimbabwe at the highest level and Zimbabwe will continue on its path of engagement and re-engagement in order to build greater understanding with our erstwhile friends, now that the issue of land is a thing of the past,” he said.
“Since its inception, Zimbabwe’s Second Republic has been invited to participate in major international and regional conferences, an opportunity that the Government has used to enhance its engagement and re-engagement agenda.
“Indeed, in the past, there were challenges associated with invitations and the issuance of visas to members of the former administration mainly for political expedience by Western countries.”
Amb Shava said Zimbabwe participated in many sideline meetings during the World Leaders Summit, which helped thaw previously frosty relations.
“His Excellency the President also engaged other Heads of State and Government and expressed Zimbabwe’s readiness to engage their administrations in order to thaw the frosty relations that still exist.
“These countries include Canada, the United Kingdom and the US.
“We are encouraged that the aforementioned countries have demonstrated their readiness to continue discussions with Zimbabwe and we hope that these initial discussions will lead to enhanced relations and the removal of sanctions to enable Zimbabwe to effectively participate in the global arena.”
The summit, he said, provided the President with an international platform to call for the removal of sanctions imposed against Zimbabwe by Western countries.
“These sanctions are impeding Zimbabwe’s efforts to, among other issues, effectively fight the Covid-19 pandemic, address climate change-related challenges and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.”
Turning to the conference outcomes, Amb Shava said the United Nations welcomed Zimbabwe’s commitment to reduce its carbon emissions by 40 percent by the year 2030.
He said the country’s submission affirmed its commitment to combat climate change.
“Zimbabwe’s conditional 40 percent greenhouse gas emissions reduction target below the projected business as usual scenario by 2030 was welcomed by the international community and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s (UNFCCC) Conference of Parties, together with all other submissions received to date.
“The submission affirmed Zimbabwe’s commitment to combat climate change, which threatens socio-economic development in Zimbabwe and the world at large.
“In addition to the emissions reduction pledge in the revised Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), Zimbabwe also committed to enhance adaptive capacity to climate change through four main interventions namely: early warnings and disaster risk reduction, climate smart agriculture, climate resilient infrastructure development and sustainable water resources development and management.”
Amb Shava said the adaptation commitment resonates well with the priorities of most developing countries, which are vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.
Addressing Zanu PF supporters in Lupane, Matabeleland North on Friday, President Mnangagwa said he asked Mr Biden why the US had unjustly imposed sanctions on the country.
“I told him that there is no crime that we committed against America and why are you imposing sanctions on us?
“I reminded him that America calls itself the biggest democracy; why imposing sanctions on Zimbabwe.
“He said ‘Mr President kindly wait.’
“He then called his staffer and held my hand and said, ‘This is the Zimbabwean President, and I want that when we return home, we revisit this issue. I would like to talk to him.’ That is what Biden said,” said President Mnangagwa.