ED back from AU summit on a high

Tichaona Zindoga and Takunda Maodza
PRESIDENT Mnangagwa walked tall back home yesterday from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where he attended the 32nd Ordinary Session of the African Union (AU) Assembly.

At the summit which ended yesterday, he managed to consolidate African support in the wake of shrill propaganda by detractors who had sought to malign the country by ramping up a false narrative following last month’s violent disturbances that occurred at the instance of the opposition and foreign-sponsored non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

The anti-Zimbabwe narrative hit a familiar staccato to influence deliberations at the AU and forthcoming meetings of the European Union (EU) and the Commonwealth.

But President Mnangagwa dispatched envoys to set the record straight with his regional and continental peers who have since — happily — lent weight to Zimbabwe.

Yesterday, the regional body, Sadc, expressed solidarity with Zimbabwe, calling out subversive activities of the opposition and NGOs as well as foreign interference. Sadc also called for the lifting of sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by the West.

The region also acknowledged the efforts by President Mnangagwa to address socio-economic challenges and transform the economy through his marquee policy, Vision 2030 aimed at making the country an Upper Middle Income Economy, amid a generally peaceful environment.

And within the corridors of AU, President Mnangagwa notched significant diplomatic scores. And the losers were the local opposition that had, but tried a tad too much.

Presidential spokesperson, Mr George Charamba reveals in an editorial we publish elsewhere in this paper, that the opposition narrative has not succeeded to legitimate President Mnangagwa.

“Significantly, even the pro-MDC Alliance US Administration has no legitimacy issues against President ED Mnangagwa and his ZANU-PF government,” reveals Mr Charamba, who is also Deputy Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet.

“As disclosed by a senior official of the administration at the just-ended AU Summit, the US government long told Nelson Chamisa (MDC Alliance leader) and his melange political outfit that they stand better served by trimming themselves into filling and playing an effective role as a loyal and law-abiding official opposition than by intransigently questioning the legitimacy of the new order.

“The same view holds firm in European capitals, even though the western world still wants to see the opposition generously nursed for what it envisions as a strong and enduring multiparty or plural democracy in which the dominant ZANU-PF is effectively checked and balanced in Zimbabwean politics.”

Mr Charamba continues: “The African view is even stronger, with all countries in SADC, more so those set to hold elections this year, dead set against the likely ‘contagion effect’ in the region of the Zimbabwean opposition’s pre-poll and post-poll destabilization antics. It thus is no wonder that it has not been very difficult for Zimbabwe, through its well-calibrated, special envoy-led diplomacy, to neutralize the opposition subterfuges both before and after the mid-January mayhem. So bad and damaging has been this violent campaign to the opposition that key capitals in SADC have outrightly refused to listen to their story.

“From Addis, Zimbabwe emerges accompanied by a SADC and an Africa with a renewed and refreshed commitment to support her cause for economic recovery, and her fight for the removal of debilitating sanctions.”

Mr Charamba says it is “heartening” that leading African states, both singly and collectively, have reconfirmed their commitment to stand with Zimbabwe by speaking against illegal sanctions targeting Zimbabwe.

“Even the development agencies of the United Nations and the European Union have signaled renewed commitment to enhance Zimbabwe’s nascent recovery efforts which they acknowledge stand imperiled by sanctions,” he said.

Besides scoring big on the diplomatic front, President Mnangagwa had a glut of business opportunities which he talked up for economic benefit back home in line with his economic push.

Last Saturday, President Mnangagwa met the Eastern and Southern African Trade and Development Bank (TDB) president Admassu Tadesse.

The financial institution made a commitment to arrange lines of credit worth at least $500 million.

TDB has also been roped in as the advisory bank for the US$3 billion Batoka power project, which is being jointly developed by Zimbabwe and Zambia at Batoka Gorge along the Zambezi River.

President Mnangagwa also clinched a life saving-partnership deal for Air Zimbabwe.

The partnership deal with Ethiopian Airlines will see Africa’s biggest airline bringing planes to Zimbabwe, training Air Zimbabwe pilots and also helping the national airliner become an aircraft maintenance hub in Sadc.

In another effort, President Mnangagwa met Estonian President President Kersti Kaljulaid and the two leaders discussed cooperation in digital technology.

A tour of Ethiopia’s industrial parks informed President Mnangagwa’s administration on the need to expedite implementation of the Special Economic Zones in Zimbabwe.

SEZ catalyse Zimbabwe’s industrialisation agenda.