PRESIDENT Mnangagwa is in Botswana on a State visit at the invitation of host president Seretse Khama Ian Khama. The visit is historic and represents a break from the past as President Khama and Zimbabwe’s former President, Cde Robert Mugabe were not the best of buddies.
Botswana has been quick to extend a hand of friendship and it looks certain that Zimbabwe and its western neighbour will be in good books, opening up opportunities for both countries which will be crucial as Zimbabwe transitions. It will be President Khama’s legacy, too, as he leaves office soon on a positive note.
President Mnangagwa’s State visit to Botswana is feeding into his diplomatic blitz that has seen him visit other countries in the region, as well as at the African Union.
Later, he will take his mission to China, the first country outside the continent he will visit.
The visit is scheduled to take place in April.
The other leg of these diplomatic forays will be re-engagement with the West, which is now within possibility.
What we note in all this is the President’s clarity on matters of foreign policy.
He is willing to engage and make friends.
On Saturday, while addressing people in Mvuma, President Mnangagwa gave yet another glimpse into his foreign policy stance.
The country’s foreign relations will be guided chiefly by economic interests. Zimbabwe is open for business, President Mnangagwa is telling the world.
It is a pragmatic approach and one that will see Zimbabwe approach negotiating tables with countries of the world with a clear and simple motivation: to have deals and friendships that work to benefit Zimbabwe.
This practicality calls to mind the famous dictum attributed to Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping, who famously said that it doesn’t matter if a cat is black or white so long as it catches mice!
Zimbabwe is on the same era of reform and opening up while jealously guarding the nation’s founding values.
The remarkable thing about all this is that President Mnangagwa is in full control of our foreign policy.
He is opening Zimbabwe up to the world without dropping guard, or at worst, selling out.
This is how he can manage to tell Britain, the former coloniser and erstwhile rival under the previous administration, that Zimbabwe is open for business, but land reform is irreversible.
This is critical.
Zimbabwe and Britain fell out over the land question and in particular how the British reacted badly to the land reform programme and mobilised the western world to punish Zimbabwe.
It’s willingness to re-engage Zimbabwe hinges on the resolution of the land question.
President Mnangagwa is standing firm and telling Britain that land reform is irreversible. That is a bold stance.
But the President’s firmness on the land question will be tampered with other possibilities and prospects that Britain could exploit.
That is pragmatism.
We are sure that the template will be used in other situations as Zimbabwe moves forward. On the other hand, the President has emphasised that Zimbabwe values relations with China, an all-weather friend.
With elections coming, which President Mnangagwa and Zanu-PF are sure to win resoundingly, Zimbabwe will need all the goodwill it can find to move forward on a new plinth.
The pragmatist in President Mnangagwa has told the world that everyone will be free to come and observe our elections.
It is a new era indeed.