International engagement key to prosperity

The Sunday Mail

National Interests override ideological baggage in Zim’s international engagement.

President Mnangagwa today embarks on a five-nation working visit- which is part of his administration’s diplomatic offensive meant to build economic synergies with strategic partner countries.

The President is expected to visit Russia, Belarus, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Switzerland.

The five-nation visit must be viewed within the context of an administration conscious of the fundamental importance of synergising strategic bilateral relations that will jumpstart an economy long battered by years of isolation.

At his inauguration as the leader of the Second Republic, President Mnangagwa underscored the urgent need to pursue rapid economic growth through the implementation of a raft of reforms. One such reform was the need for a robust engagement with the international community.

It is thus important that the five-nation working visit by President Mnangagwa be viewed within his Government’s transformational trajectory anchored on luring foreign direct investment and opening a new chapter in the country’s international political and economic relations with the rest of world.

While some have tried to cast aspersions about the decisions to visit Belarus, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan, such smears are not rooted in a deeper understanding of the critical economic importance of the Eastern European countries.

Belarus is one of the few countries that swiftly embraced the new Harare administration through the provision of mining equipment at the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) at Chiadzwa. Many would recall that President Mnangagwa last month commissioned this equipment which was procured from the East European country which also has vast interests in road construction equipment. The country is also a reputable producer of fertiliser and has a vibrant chemical industry, a feat that can be beneficial to Zimbabwe if the two countries are to concretise bilateral arrangements.

The other two nations: Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan also have interests in mining and food processing. However, of critical importance is the fact that the two are oil producing nations and it stands to reason why Zimbabwe would want to foster strong economic ties with the two countries.

We need not labour on why Russia is of critical importance to Zimbabwe. Russia is a critical development partner with interests in agriculture and mining.

The last leg of the President’s visit is a second dalliance with world leaders and business leaders of world influential corporates at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland. Being invited to attend the World Economic Forum for the second time is a confidence inspiring feat that shows that the world is taking note of the positive strides President Mnangagwa’s Government has taken in its endeavour to bury the dark years of international isolation.

Government spokesperson who is also the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Services could not have said it any better when he said the country’s international engagement is informed by national interests first and would not be distracted by “diplomatic snobbery” or “ideological baggage”.

Indeed, Zimbabwe is motivated more by its national interests, and like what the Americans say, “we must have permanent interests.”

The words of Henry A Kissinger ring loudly even to this day: “We are stranded between old conceptions of political conduct and a whole new conception, between the inadequacy of the nation-state and the emerging imperative of global community.”

The country cannot be stuck in old politics and an old economy. The bottom-line is a win-win situation with strategic economic partners. President Mnangagwa has explicitly stated that whatever misunderstandings that might have subsisted in the past, we need to make way for a new beginning which sees us relating to one another in multi-layered, mutually beneficial ways as equal and reciprocally dependent partners. In this global world, no nation, can be an island, one unto itself.

We have no illusions as to the apparent benefits of the President’s working visit. The President stands at the centre of our country’s foreign policy process and we are conscious that his role and influence over decisions is qualitatively informed by his zeal to see the country moving out of the woods and reclaim its place as an equal partner in the community of nations.

We expect bumper economic agreements that will contribute to the overall quest of making our beautiful country prosperous again.