Tichaona Zindoga Political Editor—
Western countries should stop pursuing regime change in Zimbabwe but work with Harare to find common ground on political and economic issues, outgoing South African Ambassador to Zimbabwe Vusi Mavimbela has said. In a wide-ranging interview in Harare on Thursday, Mr Mavimbela reflected on his five years in Zimbabwe during which time he facilitated inter-party talks between Zanu-PF and the opposition MDC formations which saw the creation of the inclusive Government.
“Our position throughout has been that it doesn’t help anybody to disengage from Zimbabwe. Even when I interact with ambassadors from the European and Western countries here, the point I have always made is that you have to encourage your countries to engage not to disengage. Don’t move away from Zimbabwe, come in and engage, come and invest that is how we are going to be able to influence the situation in a positive way,” said Mr Mavimbela.
“Come and engage politically, don’t disengage. If you try and isolate Zimbabwe because you have got one problem or the other it doesn’t help. These problems these days are solved by actually engaging – and that has been our position all along. So when they come and ask us what is your view and your advice, and they ask us for advice most of the time because we are neighbours and fraternal countries and we have a history, I have always underlined ‘engage’ with Zimbabwe.
Elections, which were deemed peaceful, free and fair by the international community save for hostile Western pockets, were held in 2013 ushering the present Government led by President Mugabe and Zanu-PF.
Mr Mavimbela says with the facilitation job at hand he “hit the ground running” and arranged meetings that shuttled across the border and saw South African President Jacob Zuma visiting Zimbabwe on three occasions.
“That was a memorable time and happily that process culminated in the general elections in the country and the rest is history,” he gushed. Hence the West should come to the party. “Engage politically and engage economically. That is how you are going to make a contribution,” he said.
His sentiments come after recent revelations by former South African president Thabo Mbeki that Britain and the United States sought regime change in Zimbabwe and even considered a military invasion of the Southern African country.
In 2008, the US and Britain sought to have the United Nations Security Council intervene in Zimbabwe in the name of the controversial Responsibility To Protect principle but the move was thwarted by Russia, China and South Africa.
The outgoing envoy also called for the broadening of trade between Zimbabwe and South Africa, and the region at large, saying his country was unhappy with the skewed nature of economic relations that favoured South Africa.
He said industrialisation of the region would “enlarge the cake” and stem migration and potential conflicts emanating from competition over scarce resources and opportunities.