Sharon Munjenjema, Harare Bureau
Zimbabwe has been invited to the Commonwealth Heads of State Summit that begins in Britain tomorrow and ends next Sunday, marking the latest high-level sign of thawing of relations between Harare and London.
Zimbabwe will have observer status, ahead of planned re-admission into the bloc before year-end. Before the Summit, there will be an official call on the United States, where Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Dr Sibusiso Busi Moyo will meet American government authorities.
Following the mission to the United States, Dr Moyo leads his delegation to Europe, as President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration builds bridges with countries that were hostile to Zimbabwe because of the previous regime’s policies.
In an interview with our Harare Bureau, Secretary for Foreign Affairs Ambassador Joey Bimha said the Commonwealth invitation was an indication of reciprocity to Zimbabwe’s re-engagement efforts.
“The minister has been invited by his British counterpart for a visit. He is going to attend the (Commonwealth) meeting, but he will not participate.
We are not privy to the agenda of the Summit since we are not participants . . . But this shows that our re-engagement exercise is working,” he said.
After London, Dr Moyo heads to Brussels where he is scheduled to meet European Union head of Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Ms Federica Mogherini. Ambassador Bimha said Zimbabwe’s re-engagement missions had been going well.
“The President has been on record as saying we should make overtures to woo the West again following a long period of isolation. I think the exercise is going on well. We have been to Japan, UK Portugal, China and Spain. To signal the level of reciprocity Zimbabwe has been enjoying from the West, delegations have visited the country from the European Union, the UK, the US and other countries,” he said.
President Mnangagwa’s first foreign visitor following his inauguration was then British Minister for Africa, Mr Rory Stewart. UK minister for Africa in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Department for International Development, Mr Harriet Bladwin also visited him in February.
Last month, Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa was in Britain where he met Foreign Minister Boris Johnson. A fortnight ago, a five-member delegation of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee visited Zimbabwe and met President Mnangagwa; and last week EU International Development Commissioner Mr Nevin Mimica also paid him a visit.