Wishful thinking not enough

Christopher Mutsvangwa, the Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister, recently indicated that government was willing to engage the west in an effort to normalise strained relations.

Paul Bogaert
Paul Bogaert

As we all know, disenchantment with President Robert Mugabe and those in the top echelons of power – political, economic and military – among western nations and global institutions began around the year 2000.

The Mugabe regime’s pariah status and consequent isolation and acute diplomatic discord with European countries and the US centred on the disorderly and violent land redistribution programme that started that year. It was exacerbated by widespread human rights abuses – notably Operation Murambatsvina, the horrific violence that surrounded the 2008 elections, poor governance and bad policies.

We commend the government for its sensitivity to the need to normalise international relations. The modern world is a global village that must thrive on win-win synergies and mutual harmony. The diplomatic tiffs that we have experienced for close to one and a half decades have not helped Zimbabwe in any way.

We have lost Foreign Direct Investment – as it had understandably fled to more hospitable destinations. The economy has been mired in the doldrums and people have been suffering for so long. The government lacks the political will to take the hard policy decisions that will put us back on track, fix the economy and curb runaway corruption.

However, the government must not think that merely wishing that international relations were mended will be enough. There is need for active and practical demonstration of the will to do so. For a start, the government needs to focus on revising or reversing the policies that are inimical to economic recovery.

Of late, officials have signalled a climb-down on the indigenisation policy – toning down the rhetoric and offering to be flexible. But toning down on talk is one thing, and changing the law to make it more friendly is another. There is need to remove all the clauses in our statutes that scare away investors. We need investor-friendly relations and improved governance. Without this, re-engagement with the west will remain a pie in the sky.

Similarly, the government must demonstrate to the world that it respects human rights. While abuses today are not as widespread as they used to be, concerns linger. For instance, it seems there is a renewed onslaught on the media by departments and individuals seeking to serve selfish and localised interests.

Post published in: Editor: Wilf Mbanga
  1. Wilbert Mukori

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