THE appointment of Zimbabwe’s ambassador to Malawi Hilda Suka-Mafudze as the African Union ambassador to Washington does not only raise Zimbabwe’s flag higher, but presents an opportunity for Africa and Zimbabwe to present their case to the United States.
Mafudze, a former MDC MP and President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s appointee to Malawi after a stint as Zimbabwean ambassador to Sudan comes in with vast experience in diplomacy and her posting to the US representing Africa brings renewed hope.
Mnangagwa has been desperate to engage the US and has tried all, but of course, resisting reforms, to have cordial relations with Washington.
It may be excusable to assume that Mafudze’s appointment at AU level could be a bigger Mnangagwa scheme to get his case to the US.
Given Mafudze’s opposition background and her appointment, initially by the late former President Robert Mugabe to Sudan in 2009, then by Mnangagwa to Malawi last year, Zimbabwe could be eyeing an opportunity.
Mnangagwa has not stopped at anything in his quest to call for the removal of sanctions, including forking out millions of United States dollars to engage US public relations firm Ballard Partners in 2019 to plead his case on sanctions with Washington.
Under the Political Actors’ Dialogue platform, Mnangagwa is set to despatch MDC-T leader Thokozani Khupe to plead his case with the West and call for the removal of sanctions arguing that political parties in Harare are speaking with one voice.
His case is that government is working as one with the opposition, the public relations firm in the US will affirm that with Sadc already in his corner, now his own appointee seconded by the AU to Washington, his plan seems to be in order.
But will that succeed without reforms?
The US has maintained its sanctions on Zimbabwe citing abuse of human rights, calling upon the Mnangagwa administration to reform failure of which sanctions would remain.
Africa has spoken on the issue of sanctions against Zimbabwe with Sadc even setting aside October 25 as the solidarity day where it takes time to call for the “unequivocal” removal of the embargoes.
There are a lot of issues Mafudze will push in the US including promotion of Africa as a safe investment destination, promoting free trade and many others at the heart of the continent.
It, however, remains to be seen how she will deal with the Zimbabwe sanctions issue as clearly Mnangagwa plays yet another card.