Deputy News Editor
The European Council, which includes all European Union Heads of Government that sets the EU agenda, is ready to work with Zimbabwe, including in the fight against climate change, Council President Charles Michel said yesterday after meeting President Mnangagwa.
The meeting was on the sidelines of the United Nations Climate Change Conference underway in Glascow as the re-engagement drive gathers pace.
The two met early yesterday and discussed a number of issues including deepening the re-engagement drive and the climate change fight.
After the meeting, Mr Michel tweeted: “Meeting President of Zimbabwe @edmnangagwa at the @COP26 in Glasgow. The EU stands ready to re-engage and support in implementing necessary reforms and tackling global challenges.”
The engagement with Mr Michel was one of the many that President Mnangagwa had yesterday.
The European Council is a collegiate body that defines the overall political directions and priorities of the European Union. It comprises the heads of state or government of the EU member states, along with the President of the European Council and the President of the European Commission.
President Mnangagwa had earlier met United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema, Malawi President and SADC chairperson Dr Lazarus Chakwera, Seychelles President Wavel Ramkalawan and Sierra Leone President Julius Maada Bio, among others.
There is a feeling that Zimbabwe and the UK have differed for far too long, and it was time relations were mended.
Another critical engagement for President Mnangagwa came late yesterday when he engaged UK Minister of State for Africa, Ms Vicky Ford.
The President explained to Minister Ford the development trajectory Zimbabwe has taken through the devolution agenda, adding that Harare seeks to match if not surpass developments in the region.
Zimbabwean Ambassador to the Benelux countries and Permanent Representative to the EU, Ambassador Ammon Mutembwa, told The Herald yesterday that the engagement with Minister Ford was very focused and productive .
“It dealt with the issues that have previously separated Zimbabwe and the EU. The idea was to find a way forward and the President defined the reform agenda and Zimbabwe’s vision. He spelt out the ultimate objective of Zimbabwe’s reform agenda,” said Ambassador Mutembwa.
Turning to the engagement with EU Council’s Mr Michel, Ambassador Mutembwa said they spoke about developing relations.
The African Union-EU summit scheduled for February next year, is expected to see Zimbabwe further engaging the EU. President Mnangagwa has already been invited to the summit. The EU and its member states have been normalising relations with Zimbabwe at an ever-increasing pace recently.
“In short the re-engagement drive is in full swing, with time frames having been set. During the engagements, no conditions were spelt out by anybody,” said Ambassador Mutembwa.
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Ambassador Fredrick Shava, Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube and Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to the UK, (Retired) Colonel Christian Katsande are also attending the summit.
The key engagements that President Mnangagwa had, principally with the EU Council President and British Minister of State for Africa, are key milestones in the reengagement drive that some opposition elements do not want to succeed.
In fact, political analysts say the mere arrival of President Mnangagwa in Glasgow is seen as a major breakthrough in the reengagement drive which begun in 2017, and a slap in the face for opposition functionaries that sought to tarnish Zimbabwe’s image ahead of the visit by staging abductions and assassination attempts.
Zimbabwe and the UK have had frosty relations since 2000 when Harare embarked on the successful land reform.
But President Mnangagwa’s administration has declared its willingness to reopen formal and cordial lines of communication with all nations of the world guided by the mantra, “Friend to all and enemy to none” and has signed off on an agreement with the commercial farmers who lost land.
The President is expected to meet other leaders and potential investors today after addressing the COP26.
Ahead of his visit to the UK, President Mnangagwa said he hoped to meet UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and others, to mend and strengthen relations.