Africa Moyo and Joseph Madzimure
A large crowd of Zanu PF supporters thronged the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport yesterday to give President Mnangagwa a thunderous welcome on his return from his successful trip to the United Nations Climate Change Conference held in Britain.
President Mnangagwa arrived shortly after 11:30am yesterday, to find hundreds of party supporters waiting for him.
The moment his aircraft landed and doors opened, the supporters showed their appreciation with some singing, others punching their fists into the air as a sign of victory, while others danced and ululated.
It was an electric and jovial atmosphere, which rose to a crescendo when the President exited the plane.
Some shouted “Shumba!, Shumba!” — his totem, while others thundered “Garwe! Garwe!” — referring to his “Crocodile” nickname.
The President was jovially received by some Government dignitaries on the tarmac led by Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, including the Zanu PF Vice President and Second Secretary Cde Kembo Mohadi, Defence and War Veterans Affairs Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa, Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution for Harare Oliver Chidau and service chiefs.
Acting Zanu PF National Political Commissar, Cde Patrick Chinamasa and his deputy Cde Omega Hungwe, the party’s Harare Provincial leadership led by Chairman Godwills Masimirembwa and Youth League leaders, were also present.
Straight after the President greeted Government and top party officials, he turned his attention to party supporters.
Punching his fist in the air, President Mnangagwa walked for about 100 metres saluting the party supporters that lined up on the tarmac in front of a podium set specifically for the President to brief supporters about his trip.
VP Chiwenga kicked off with opening remarks, in which he praised President Mnangagwa for representing Zimbabwe well in Glasgow, the venue for the COP26.
He then introduced the President and when he rose to deliver his address, more singing, dancing and chanting of party slogans ensued.
The President then started by thanking the Zanu PF multitudes for coming to welcome him.
“I thank you with all my heart for coming here,” he said.
The President told the supporters and other delegates that Zimbabwe was one of the 193 United Nations members that were invited to the COP26, which discussed ways of solving the climate change crisis.
“We met to discuss the impact of climate change in our countries. You see all the cyclones (including Cyclone Idai in 2019), droughts and other issues, they are a result of climate change,” he said.
The President said they discussed the causes of climate change and as the developing world including Asia, Africa and Latin America, they concurred that developed countries were more responsible for polluting the environment, which is now impacting on poor countries whose contribution has been largely minimal.
One of the issues that came up in Glasgow as a way to fight climate change, was banning fossil fuels.
However, President Mnangagwa said developing countries could not agree to immediately halt the use of fossil fuels since they do not have a diverse energy mix.
The conference resolved that developed nations must financially support developing nations to broaden their energy mix, with particular attention to renewable energy such as solar, that doesn’t affect the environment compared to coal-powered thermal stations.
Turning to the re-engagement drive under which Zimbabwe is guided by the mantra, “Friend to all and enemy to none”, President Mnangagwa said he met several leaders whose countries had stopped collaborating on various issues with Zimbabwe, some since 2000 after the land reform.
The President said he was impressed by the reception he got from the day he arrived in Glasgow up to the time of his return.
He said he had engaged UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on three occasions and they agreed to kickstart the restoration of good and win-win relations. He said the UK Minister of State for Africa, Vicky Ford, whom he met in formal discussions, would be coming to Harare soon.
President Mnangagwa also said he had engaged US President Joe Biden, who also promised to follow-up on the engagement.
He added that European Council President Charles Michel said the EU would be glad to review its stance on Zimbabwe given that the UK, which had pushed for Zimbabwe to be slammed with sanctions after the land reform was no longer a member.
Other engagements were with the Duke of Cambridge Prince William, his father Prince of Wales Prince Charles, Secretary of State for the Holy See Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Commonwealth Secretary General Baroness Patricia Scotland, and several others.
All the engagements were positive and indicate that a new dawn for Zimbabwe was on the cards, and just the invitation to the UK, for the first time in over two decades, was the start of potentially good things in Zimbabwe’s foreign policy thrust.
Acting Secretary for Youth League Cde Tendai Chirau said the huge numbers of Zanu PF supporters that gathered to welcome the President were befitting for a man who has done well for the country.
“As he indicated that he met with different leaders from different countries, the President put Zimbabwe first and we are seeing the fruits of the engagement and reengagement policy.
“The President is a man who is an all-rounder, from diplomacy to leading the revival of infrastructure in this country,” said Cde Chirau.
Cde Masimirembwa said: “He was extremely successful together with countries from the developing world, to point out that those responsible for climate change adversities we face today have the responsibility to develop mitigating measures so that we don’t suffer the adverse effects of climate change.
“We are very happy that the President had a successful meeting in Glasgow.”
Mrs Marry Churu of Epworth, Harare, said the visit by the President to Scotland will help transform the economy as Zimbabwe’s perception in the eyes of the world is beginning to change.ac