PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa is planning a whirlwind tour across the world as Zimbabwe launches an ambitious bid to become a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) in 2027.
This was revealed by Foreign Affairs and International Trade minister Frederick Shava in his opening remarks to the Senior Management and Ambassadors’ Retreat and Strategic Planning Review in Bulawayo this week.
The UNSC consists of 15 members — five permanent and 10 non-permanent members — with the latter being elected by the UN General Assembly for two-year terms while five retire each year.
Mnangagwa launched an aggressive engagement and reengagement drive after winning the 2018 harmonised elections including concerted efforts to rejoin the Commonwealth.
“As we continue pushing for a renewed multilateralism fit for purpose and fit for its time, it is our responsibility, from wherever our workstations, to lobby for Zimbabwe to rejoin the UNSC.
“While His Excellency and myself would have whirlwind tours across the world to campaign for Zimbabwe as we draw towards 2026, the time to start lobbying for support is now. If it means trading horses or supporting other countries’ candidatures for international appointment in return for support for Zimbabwe’s bid, then let us begin doing that now,” Shava said.
Entrusted with maintaining international peace and security by the UN Charter, membership of the UNSC brings significant responsibility and the opportunity for global influence.
The council is called upon to tackle crises around the world and has the power to impose legally binding measures on UN members, including measures related to the use of force. The council is also responsible for overseeing the complex and dangerous work of the UN’s more than two dozen peacekeeping and political missions.
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Many see the council as dominated by its five permanent members (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States), who, in addition to their veto power, can leverage their tenure, institutional memory and greater resources to determine council outcomes.
Despite this perception, the council’s 10 non-permanent members, collectively and individually, can, and do, make tangible contributions to the council and have the ability to influence its decisions.
Current and past non-permanent members have emphasised that being an effective non-permanent member requires seizing the opportunities provided by the council’s procedures, as well as the informal methods by which much of its work is undertaken. Shava noted that Zimbabwe’s diplomats had achieved Mnangagwa’s foreign policy objective to reengage the international community for Zimbabwe to rejoin the community of nations.
“We have achieved that goal. Zimbabwe has been readmitted into the Community of Nations. I have to declare that Zimbabwe is now a responsible and active member of the international community,” he said.
The Foreign Affairs minister added that rejoining the international community was also a precursor to bigger things to come.
He also reiterated that Zimbabwe would not be drawn into the “new Cold War” between Russia and the United States.
“Now more than ever, we remain neutral on issues that are not of strategic interest to us and also that are not for peace. Zimbabwe should continue to actively promote the paradigm of collaboration with all countries,” he added.
Shava, however, conceded that Zimbabwe’s agriculture faced grave danger from disruptions emanating from the Russia-Ukraine conflict which has a negative impact on food security.
“We have to generate more investment in agricultural productivity so that we can diversify our food production and imports. In the meantime, we must not lose sight of another predicament in front of us - a fertiliser crisis.
“To be food secure, Zimbabwe requires fertilisers and the Russia-Ukraine conflict has affected our fertiliser imports from the two warring countries,” Shava said.
Fertiliser shortages and high costs of imports average US$250 million per year, he said, adding that the Foreign Affairs ministry was duty-bound to find external investors to fund and support local fertiliser production.
“There are capacities even here in Africa for cooperation in fertiliser production. On the energy front, we have no other option, but to accelerate progress towards energy self-sufficiency. Mobilization of resources and know-how is critical,” Shava said.
He said Zimbabwe, despite lack of funding, needed to transition to green energy due to climate change, which requires action as an equal member of the world.
“Remember the energy sector is a major contributor to carbon emissions. The ministry has to be mindful of the need to get funding and partners for our transition in all our engagement with international investors and the developed countries.”
Shava told diplomats that the West had declared its interest in the 2023 elections and there was an anticipated increase in interest.
“The ministry must be prepared to counter whatever machinations that come with this plebiscite. It is an opportunity for Zimbabwe once again to show the world that democracy thrives here.
“However, for the world to comprehend and accept these and other good developments emanating from Zimbabwe, we are ambassadors of the country with the responsibility to share positive narratives about our country. Now more than ever, we need to speak with one voice over the coming election. I cannot overemphasise the important responsibility we have of maintaining the positive image of the country,” Shava said.
He also hailed the great strides made in terms of trade inflows into the country.
From January to June 2022, the country’s total exports stood at US$3,3 billion, a 31% increase compared to US$2,52 billion recorded in the same period last year.
“Let us strive to increase our exports to non-traditional and untapped markets. We have made inroads into the Middle East market, specifically in the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Saudi Arabia,” Shava said.
Shava further noted that there was a need to continue searching for new markets while scouting for more investors.