FOREIGN Affairs minister Walter Mzembi’s new focus to push for commercial diplomacy by engaging Zimbabwe’s Western foes to ensure the restoration of strong relations is heartening and timely.
However, while Mzembi’s drive is a welcome development, he should not lose sight of the fact that the country would have to make painful decisions before his dream becomes reality.
It is, therefore, critical for the country’s leadership to do serious introspection over its tainted human rights record, corruption, bad governance, intolerance and the conduct of free elections, among other democratic values.
The country has had a frosty relationship with the West over its policies that favour the ruling elite at the expense of the poor majority, and prospects for re-engagement without working on these concerns are slim.
Undoubtedly, Mzembi has the unenviable task of making his principals see reason in his proposition and right their wrongs, failure of which Zimbabwe could remain a pariah State.
The fact that President Robert Mugabe has chosen the path of bravado over the last decade or so has seen him remain isolated, and that is the same reason why nations under the United Nations ambit protested against his appointment as a goodwill ambassador for the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Mugabe’s instant removal as WHO goodwill ambassador after only four days in embarrassing style should be enough to send a strong message to him to change the trajectory he is taking the country.
It is important to wish Mzembi all the best in his bid to pursue this new course to boost trade for the benefit of the whole economy.
We urge Mugabe to support Mzembi’s initiatives for once, not only in word, but in deed too. We believe the government should demonstrate its commitment to entrenching democratic values, otherwise without that, there can never be any re-engagement.
The stand-off between Zimbabwe and the West has gone on for too long and there is need for change, which Mzembi represents. Mzembi should be warned not to show ambition in anything he may want to do otherwise his project may flounder, as Mugabe does not want any new ideas from his appointees.
Our fear is that Mzembi’s initiatives to extend an olive branch to the West may suffer a stillbirth especially after he recently told guests at the United Nations Day commemorations that he represents the regeneration of a new leadership.
It is Zimbabweans’ appeal that Mzembi will not have to pay a high price for deciding to do something that his principal seems reluctant to do.