The advent of the Second Republic led by President Mnangagwa has been characterised by a consistent adherence to a reform agenda punctuated by the opening up and entrenching of the democratic space to all citizens.
As the European Union Council of Foreign Ministers of all 27 member states of the group meet in the second week of February to review what it calls “restrictive measures” imposed on Zimbabwe, we are hopeful that the bloc will acknowledge or take note of the initiatives made by President Mnangagwa’s administration to move the country away from being an intractable political label to a country more amenable to constructive engagement.
Last year, the council resolved not to extend the sanctions against any individuals in order to allow the country to pursue its reforms in accordance with its Constitution.
While some would want a quick fix to the country’s reform agenda, no one can really doubt President Mnangagwa’s sincerity in ensuring that Zimbabweans across the political divide enjoy the freedoms and rights enshrined in the country’s Constitution.
Many will remember President Mnangagwa’s 2015 visit to China when he was still Vice President where he clearly showed his exasperation with the fact that Zimbabwe had lagged behind in development when the country suffered international isolation after it embarked on an equitable land reform exercise.
It was in that interview that President Mnangagwa declared that economic stability is an offspring of political stability and that political stability is a product of democratic entrenchment.
His inauguration defining speech on November 24 2017 encapsulated his vision of a reformed Zimbabwe when he said: “Today, the Republic of Zimbabwe renews itself. My Government will work towards ensuring the pillars of State assuring democracy in our land are strengthened and respected.”
That the country has renewed itself since the advent of the New Dispensation is more than apparent to any fair-minded person. It is our hope that the EU deliberations will not be prejudiced or contaminated by parochial perceptions of those whose job is simply to oppose anything initiated by the Government of Zimbabwe.
The reforms that have thus far been initiated by the Government of Zimbabwe are far and wide. In Part V11 of the Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP) blueprint titled “Governance Reforms”, the Government committed itself to ensuring the rule of law; political governance and democratisation; respect for human and property rights, national unity, peace and reconciliation; tolerance, freedom of expression and association.
In addition, the Government also repealed the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), which has been a major bone of contention among journalists and in some Western embassies.
In line with the spirit of inclusive politics, reconciliation and unity — a hallmark of the New Dispensation—President Mnangagwa has set the ball rolling through the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC), with the mandate to ensure healing for past and present conflicts.
As a listening leader, the President set up a Presidential Advisory Council (PAC), comprised of independent and diverse eminent sons and daughters of Zimbabwe to provide independent and unadulterated advice on the direction the country should take. The consummation of inclusive politics is the hallmark of every democracy.
On foreign policy, President Mnangagwa set the tone in his inauguration speech in 2017 when he said: “Whatever misunderstandings may have subsisted in the past, let these make way to a new beginning which sees us relating to one another in a multi-layered, mutually beneficial ways as equal partners. In this global world, no nation is, can, or need be an island, one unto itself. Isolation has never been splendid or viable, solidarity and partnerships are and will always be the way.”
President Mnangagwa’s sincerity is exemplified by his robust international re-engagement foreign policy that has resulted in the reopening of diplomatic channels with erstwhile international adversaries Britain, the European Union and the United States under the banner of “Zimbabwe is Open for Business”.
Zimbabwe’s quest to rejoin the Commonwealth also demonstrates President Mnangagwa’s desire to ensure that the country is re-integrated into the family of nations.
Therefore, if EU’s gripe is on the need for reforms, the New Dispensation is surely on course. An inescapable fact from objective observers is that the EU sanctions have not only become moribund but utterly incongruent given the fact that Britain, which was the chief instigator, is no longer part of the bloc.
Let the EU be assured of the fact that Zimbabwe will forge ahead with its reform agenda that serves its citizens and its quest to chart a new course must not be impinged but supported by all.