Zim well represented at US-Africa summit: Govt


Harare (New Ziana) – The absence of President Emmerson Mnangagwa at the US-Africa summit will not set back the government’s re-engagement efforts with Washington, as officials representing the country there are equally up to the task to engage with the Biden administration on issues, including the illegal economic sanctions.

Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Ambassador Frederick Shava is representing the country at the Summit.

The Ministerial level representation is a result of specific terms spelt out in Washington’s invitation to Harare, and not because President Emmerson Mnangagwa snubbed the event.

There have been reports in some sections of the media that President Mnangagwa had turned down the invitation, the first time Washington has asked Harare to be represented at the US-Africa Summit since its inception in 2014.

In a series of posts on Twitter on Tuesday, Deputy Chief Secretary in the Office of the President and Cabinet George Charamba said while some commentators were suggesting that by “snubbing” the event, President Mnangagwa had lost an opportunity to engage the US over its sanctions against Zimbabwe, Shava was equally up to the task.

“The facts are as follows: The US government for the first time broke with tradition to invite the Zimbabwean government to participate at the summit. It went further to indicate the level of representation it preferred, namely that of our Foreign Minister, Dr Frederick Shava. It should be appreciated this is a US government event, in which case the US enjoys the right and prerogative of a host, which right they exercised as best they saw how,” he said.

“With that stricture in mind, the Zimbabwean government decided to send the Foreign Minister, who is already in Washington for the US-Africa Summit. President ED Mnangagwa did not snub any invite; none came asking for his direct participation.

“Engagement on the illegal sanctions will take place at the summit. In fact, a few meetings with US government officials were lined up for the Foreign Minister, and these (are) to take place ahead of the summit. This is why the Honourable Minister had to leave for Washington from Angola.”

The invite to the US-Africa summit, a multilateral event it was previously excluded from, is the clearest sign yet that Zimbabwe was shaking off decades old Western-led ostracisation in the global comity of nations.

The West, angered by Zimbabwe’s land reforms under which the government compulsorily acquired excess farmland from white farmers to resettle landless blacks, imposed sweeping economic and other sanctions on the country, and drove efforts to diplomatically isolate it in the world.

The sanctions crippled the country, causing economic damage estimated by the government at around US$100 billion, and forcing mass emigration to neighbouring countries and abroad.

As part of its ostracisation campaign, the West cut diplomatic engagement with Zimbabwe, and banned its top government officials, including President Mnangagwa, from travelling to its member states.

Western countries even excluded the country in multilateral engagements such as the EU-Africa and US-Africa summits, prompting the Second Republic, when it assumed office in 2017, to seek a reset in relations with all nations, including the hostile countries.

The foreign policy shift by the government saw it engaging all nations, particularly the West, to iron out differences, and open a new page in relations.

Cautiously, the West has responded by slowly re-embracing Zimbabwe, and lifting some of the sanctions, and resuming bilateral and multilateral engagement, and aid flows to the country.

The invite to the US-Africa summit is one such fruit of the engagement efforts.

New Ziana

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