A new era in pragmatism
WHERE the former President Mr Robert Mugabe was fiery and bellicose, President Mnangagwa has personified calmness; and where his predecessor was belligerent, ED has chosen to engage.
These traits were all on display at the just-ended 73rd General Assembly of the United Nations.
It, therefore, becomes clear that in terms of both tact and craft, President Mnangagwa and Mr Mugabe, though both revolutionaries, are not cut from the same cloth.
Since his inauguration on August 26th, President Mnangagwa has preached the gospel of peace and tolerance.
It must have been a Damascene moment for the naysers, especially those who doubt his sincerely to shepherd a new Zimbabwe, when President Mnangagwa delivered his maiden speech at the United Nations on Wednesday.
As has become his trademark, President Mnangagwa stuck to the script and made a strong case for Zimbabwe.
He magnanimously applauded all countries and international organisations that observed the July 30 elections and, most importantly, pledged to take heed of the recommendations they made, which essentially is an indication of how he intends to continue to deepen and entrench democracy in Zimbabwe.
The President also assured global leaders that Government will investigate the regrettable loss of life that occurred on August 1st.
He told the world that an international team of experts has already been gathered for the probe.
He was not obligated to do it, but he did it anyway in a clear demonstration of his administration’s transparency.
Fittingly, he took the global audience through the election campaign and the voting process.
Perhaps the biggest takeaway from President Mnangagwa’s maiden speech at the UN was its pragmatism.
In contemporary politics, there is no room for rabble-rousing rhetoric.
Another critical issue that came out of the speech was the land issue.
While acknowledging the obligation to compensate some white commercial farmers according to the dictates of the laws of the land, President Mnangagwa emphasised, for the umpteenth time, that the land reform programme is now water under the bridge.
The land issue has remained a thorny issue in Zimbabwe.
Surprisingly, it is not so much the white farmers who have been making the loudest noise.
It is the US that has been making the loudest clamour, arguing that the unilateral and illegal economic sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe can only be lifted if Zimbabwe respects some past tribunal rulings on land.
This is notwithstanding the fact that the tribunal has since become defunct.
It is important to highlight that the acrimony over the land reform programme stems from escalation of the bilateral dispute between Harare and London.
For two decades before the land reform programme, Britain had reneged on its earlier pledge to fund the exercise.
With Zimbabwe digging into the land reform programme, Britain naturally felt that it to defend its kith and kin.
But given that relations between Britain and Zimbabwe are thawing, it makes no sense for the United States or the European Union to remain stuck in a time warp, even when it’s clear that the political dynamics have fundamentally changed.
ED has therefore remained steadfast in his re-engagement efforts with both the US and the EU.
The “open for business” mantra seems to be gaining traction judging from the reception and interest from investors.
The President’s meeting with the World Bank vice president for Africa, Mr Hafez Ghanem, is instructive.
German-based scholar Hans J Morgenthau (1904-1980) - who is reputed for his works on realism in international relations theory - once noted in his seminal paper on “The Future of Diplomacy”, that diplomacy is an element of national power and that individual countries must be aware of the instruments at their disposal to advance their national interests.
Emboldened by his triumph in the July 30 harmonised elections, ED has not sought to vanquish his opponents, he has called for national-building.
He is obviously alive to the fact that Zimbabwe can develop sustainably when there is unity of purpose, peace and the rule of law.
Clearly, the country’s new foreign policy is not about widening rifts, but building bridges and promoting national interests through peaceful means.
Being non-confrontational, however, does not mean being blind to issues of national sovereignty.
President Mnangagwa made it clear that Zimbabwe, just like other African countries, is against the continued occupation of the Saharawi Republic by Morocco.
He urged global leaders to rally behind the Saharawi Republic’s quest for independence.
It was also heartening to listen to Rwandan President Paul Kagame, who is also the African Union chairperson, making a case for Zimbabwe. Such an endorsement at a global stage is just the tonic Zimbabwe needs after years of isolation and being treated as a pariah State.