Diplo­macy: ‘National in­ter­est first’

The Herald (Zimbabwe) - - National News - Deputy Edi­tor

ZIM­BABWE is putting the national in­ter­est first in its diplo­matic en­gage­ments and will not be dis­tracted by “diplo­matic snob­bery” or ide­o­log­i­cal bag­gage.

Gov­ern­ment spokesper­son Mr Nick Mang­wana, who is also the Sec­re­tary for In­for­ma­tion, Pub­lic­ity and Broad­cast­ing Ser­vices, ex­plained this yesterday ahead Pres­i­dent Mnan­gagwa’s visit to Europe next week.

Pres­i­dent Mnan­gagwa will visit Rus­sia, Be­larus, Azer­bai­jan and Kaza­khstan be­fore pro­ceed­ing to Davos, Switzer­land, for the an­nual World Eco­nomic Fo­rum.

But ques­tions have been raised on the qual­ity of his for­mer en­gage­ments with some quar­ters point­ing that the coun­tries are not “big enough” or would be com­pared to second-tier Euro­pean foot­ball.

“I think what we are deal­ing with here is what some may call ‘diplo­matic snob­bery’,” shot back Mr Mang­wana.

“I pre­sume you are not re­fer­ring to Rus­sia. She is part of the G8 economies of this world. It is miles a very big coun­try by any mea­sure one may choose. Let’s talk of Be­larus, Kaza­khstan and Azer­bai­jan. You may re­call we had two high-level vis­its from the Repub­lic of Be­larus in Fe­bru­ary and Septem­ber 2018. Be­larus has a lot of strengths which Zim­babwe is lev­er­ag­ing,” he said.

He ex­plained that there were pro­pos­als for a joint com­mis­sion be­tween the two coun­tries and that the two would strengthen bi­lat­eral re­la­tions in agri­cul­ture, min­ing, man­u­fac­tur­ing, ed­u­ca­tion and trade sec­tor.

Ex­plained Mr Mang­wana: “Let’s talk about Azer­bai­jan: This is a coun­try with the very large sov­er­eign wealth fund and has shown in­ter­est in hav­ing Africa as its in­vest­ment des­ti­na­tion. If some­thing good has to hap­pen in Africa then let it be in Zim­babwe. That’s why the Pres­i­dent says that ‘Zim­babwe is Open for Busi­ness’. You are not go­ing to start be­ing snooty when it comes to trade and in­vest­ment. “It is this same kind of think­ing that ex­plains why Pres­i­dent Mnan­gagwa is go­ing to visit other coun­tries in the same re­gion like Kaza­khstan. This is a coun­try from which Zim­babwe can learn a lot. There are also trade op­por­tu­ni­ties with Zim­babwe po­ten­tially ex­port­ing fruit, cof­fee, tea and to­bacco for the ben­e­fit of our econ­omy. Zim­babwe has to ben­e­fit from its min­eral wealth and, surely, coun­tries which have already been there like Kaza­khstan can im­part a lot of knowl­edge through skills shar­ing and trans­fer with Zim­babwe.”

The Gov­ern­ment spokesper­son bat­ted away in­sin­u­a­tions that it was not good do­ing busi­ness with coun­tries that were not “model democ­ra­cies”.

“Democ­racy is a highly con­tex­tual term,” he said.

“In 2017 the UK im­ported goods worth £45,2 bil­lion from China and it ex­ported goods worth £22,3 bil­lion to the same coun­try. Look at how dif­fer­ent their per­cep­tion of democ­racy is.

“In 2018 the United States im­ported goods worth $296,8 bil­lion from China and ex­ported goods worth $74,3 bil­lion to China. You wouldn’t get two coun­tries ly­ing on dif­fer­ent ends of an ide­o­log­i­cal spec­trum. But they trade and they trans­act.

“That’s the way mod­ern diplo­macy is. It’s more about putting national in­ter­est ahead of ide­o­log­i­cal frame­works.”

He said Gov­ern­ment would pur­sue var­i­ous mem­o­randa of un­der­stand­ing so that they would be trans­lated into ven­tures.

Re­gard­ing the much-vaunted Davos meet­ing, Mr Mang­wana said Zim­babwe would build on its at­ten­dance last year.

He said: “The 48th an­nual ses­sion that took place last year was the first one Zim­babwe was rep­re­sented at the level of Head of State. This was Zim­babwe at its best in pur­suit of the policy of en­gage­ment andee-en­gage­ment. Zim­babwe is go­ing to Davos in a bet­ter po­si­tion than last year.”

Mr Mang­wana

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