Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister, Sibusiso Moyo has just finished a very successful weeklong engagement with the senior political and business leadership in Britain.
Minister Moyo, accompanied by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Mr Nick Mangwana spent last week in London as part of the Government’s wider engagement and re-engagement thrust to bring the country back into the international fold after years of cold relations, especially with Britain, Europe and America.
Among other engagements, the minister addressed business leaders at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, also known as Chatham House; had lunch with the Westminster Africa Business Group; met representatives of the Investor Africa Group; met Britain’s Minister of State for Africa at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Ms Harriet Baldwin; met Commonwealth secretary general, Ms Patricia Scotland and interacted with Zimbabweans living in Britain.
It was a packed four-day programme for Minister Moyo in a country of international significance.
We are certain that the Government’s message to Britain as communicated by Minister Moyo was well received. That he made the trip – his second to the same city inside 15 months – and that he had meetings with Ms Baldwin and Ms Scotland is enough to show the success of the visit because in the past, Britain and the Commonwealth always had no time to meet government representatives from here.
Minister Moyo told Britain and the Commonwealth that the Second Republic is firmly on the path to reform at home and is willing to engage and reengage the world for more cordial relations. He detailed the measures that the Government has put in place and is putting in place on its road to reform. He, of course, denounced as outdated and unhelpful, the illegal Western sanctions on Zimbabwe.
“We do not want to be a Government perceived as being at perpetual war with our neighbours,” said Minister Moyo at Chatham House.
“My visit here has only strengthened our commitment to re-engagement. We thus remain committed to economic and political reforms in our nation, and to re-engagement and to mending fences with all those who wish to engage with us.
“Since my visit in April 2018, we have launched our Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP); an ambitious two-year programme anchored on sweeping economic and other reforms, designed to stabilise the economy and to lay a solid base for sustainable economic growth thereafter. We are now 10 months into that programme and the results of Government’s ‘austerity-for-prosperity’ measures have (been significant) – most specifically in promoting fiscal consolidation, reduced government expenditure and, unprecedented over the past 20 years or so, sustained primary budget surpluses.”
He added that the Government had abolished the multi-currency regime and re-introduced the local currency, repealed the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act and the Public Order and Security Act to come up with more modern pieces of legislation that promote media freedom and order while ensuring that the freedoms are not abused willy-nilly.
A Bill establishing the Zimbabwe Investment and Development Agency (ZIDA), a One Stop Investment Shop modelled along the lines of the highly effective Rwanda Development Board, is before Parliament, he said, and is expected to become law in the next few months.
On American sanctions, the minister said they must be removed as they are now outdated and have ruined the lives of ordinary people. He said the Government is working with the British government to convince the US to drop the sanctions. In the same vein, the Government is convincing American corporates to invest in Zimbabwe, mentioning US conglomerate General Electric which has been picked to build the 2 400 megawatt Batoka Hydro electrical Plant as evidence of the new private sector-focused lobby against the punitive measures.
Yet another important development that we have seen in the country, one that the international community should be happy with is the political parties’ dialogue that President Mnangagwa initiated a few months ago. Zimbabwe needs the dialogue to remove any tension that might be there among the people in the country. Zimbabwe needs the dialogue to engender greater national consensus that creates the amity that is necessary for economic growth and prosperity.
Going forward, Minister Moyo’s successful visit must help foster a mutual understanding between Harare and London. That mutual understanding, in our considered view, forms the basis for co-operation in a whole range of areas including investment and trade.
We also expect Minister Moyo’s visit to help in Zimbabwe’s thrust to be readmitted into the Commonwealth. There are a number of benefits that a country enjoys from being a member of the 53-member group. A member of the Commonwealth stands a better chance to forge and develop sound business, political and cultural ties with fellow members for mutual development than one that is not a member of the Club.
While Minister Moyo had a fruitful trip to London, an embarrassing footnote to that visit was the physical attack on him by a gang of MDC Alliance activists on Friday. The actions of the gang are thoroughly barbaric and depraved thus condemnable. The world has gotten more civilised than what we witnessed on that day.