Re-engagement is vital

LONDON - In the past few months, the US re-established relations with erstwhile archenemy states, Cuba and Iran.

This was crowned with the reciprocal re-opening of embassies that had been shut down at the height of tensions.

Like Zimbabwe, the two were among states labelled as “outposts of tyranny” by former US secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Relations with Burma, another “outpost,” have also thawed, resulting in reopening of diplomatic missions.

These developments attest to the fact that diplomacy does work.

It can be argued that the tensions between the US and these countries were far worse than those between Zimbabwe and Washington.

The US and Zimbabwe did not reach the point of shutting embassies. The channels for diplomacy remained open, and remain so today. The same with the British and other European countries.

If Iran, Cuba and Myanmar can re-establish relations with the world’s biggest economy and other states, there is nothing that should stop us from doing the same. We cannot repose our economic renaissance in mega-deals with China alone.

Zanu PF has exhibited a penchant for self-immolation through speech, actions and policy that has isolated us from the rest of the world.

It has revelled in misguided and unproductive militancy under the banner of the so-called Third Chimurenga.

When agrarian reform was a perfectly justifiable imperative, Zanu PF resorted to violent land invasions.

In explaining his differences with former army commander Solomon Mujuru, now late, former finance minister Simba Makoni and academic Ibbo Mandaza, who had apparently accused him of being the sole author of people’s suffering, President Robert Mugabe asked: “But what is it that people are suffering from? Isn’t it that we gave them land.”

To Mugabe, land is the panacea for all suffering.

Perhaps this belief in the paramountcy of land ownership was the reason for the indigenisation laws that have relegated the importance of foreign investment.

And just when the world was beginning to warm up to us again, with European delegation after delegation coming to seek investment opportunities, Itai Dzamara is abducted, affirming our status, once again, as a tyrannical outpost.

The militancy against our own citizens and perceived enemies has wrought disaster.

The problem with the war mentality is that it manufactures self-fulfilling victories, like “we have beaten the sanctions.”

Yet when you look around, you do not see signs of any triumph.

The effects of human rights violations, international isolation and bad governance that Mugabe does not seem to see are painfully evident beyond the walls of State House.

The lack of regular supplies of potable water, electricity and joblessness and so on, do not fit into his concept of suffering.

The same carelessness is what leads Mugabe to take to the podium and tell his hosts “shame, shame, shame” instead of resorting to meaningful re-engagement behind closed doors.

Within Zanu PF, some have, however, started realising the folly of belligerence.

“We are too small to pursue a policy of confrontation,” said finance minister, Patrick Chinamasa, when calling for an end to hostility with the West.

This is the path we must take. We are just midgets militarily and economically and must stop claiming phantom victories.

But pragmatic voices like Chinamasa, Walter Mzembi and others are often drowned out by the militant rhetoric.

Successful economies are not built on a single sector like agriculture alone, or selective friendships.

The world has moved towards greater interconnectedness in all spheres of life, not least the global political economy.

Like President Barack Obama, Mugabe can leave behind a legacy of re-engagement for the good of Zimbabweans.

As a country, we have been fortunate enough not to descend into full-scale and destructive civil war; the infrastructure, now poor as it is, is salvageable.

Neither have we cut diplomatic ties. The channels are open.

Therefore platforms for national reconstruction and constructive diplomatic re-engagement exist.

With the political will, we can be an outpost of success.

    Comments (1)

    Interesting and thought provoking! For the first twenty years Mugabe was in and out of the Washington, London, Paris, etc. like a yo-yo. When in 2000 the IMF and WB told him they were cutting all Zimbabwe's line credits be-cause he had an insatiable appetite for spending with zero economic sense Mugabe started looking for an excuse to pick a fight with the West. He cranked up his anti-West rhetoric to full blast and he never missed an opportunity to denounce the White and the West and everything they stood for. Mugabe has re-engaged with the European Union at least in so far as the targeted sanctions against everyone in his inner circle other than himself and his wife. For years Mugabe has made a big song and dance blaming Zimbabwe's economic collapse on the sanctions. It is now over a year since the sanctions were lifted and yet the Zimbabwe economy has continued in its nose-dive and thus proving that Zimbabwe's economic meltdown has nothing to do with the sanctions nor the re-engagement. Zimbabwe's economic recovery will depend on the country implementing democratic reforms and holding the country's very first free, fair and credible elections; something Mugabe and Zanu PF have stubbornly refused to do. But the worsening economic situation will force them to. The anti-white and anti-west rhetoric is but a smoke screen created by Mugabe to justify his denial of the people a meaningful say in the governance of the country under the pretext all those fighting for free, fair and credible elections are puppets of the west seeking regime change. Putting Zimbabwe's relationship with Washington on par with Cuba or Iran will flatter Mugabe but insults the people of Cuba and Iran! With Cuba and Iran there was some ideological differences with the US, since when has breath-taking incompetence and greed been considered an ideology!

    Wilbert Mukori - 27 August 2015

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