HARARE - Zimbabwe’s new foreign affairs minister says that the southern African nation will not allow the West to dictate its policies and that no country had a monopoly on how diplomacy should be conducted.
In a hurriedly called address to diplomats accredited in Zimbabwe, new Foreign Minister Sibusiso Moyo said there are “no angels” that should dictate any country’s foreign policy.
The address was delivered after Zimbabwe’s opposition and civic leaders testified Tuesday before the U.S. Congress and asked the international community to push Harare to ensure free and fair elections.
Moyo said President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government, which came to power last month with the backing of the army, had started reaching out to Western countries like the United States and Britain to normalize relations strained under former president Robert Mugabe’s administration.
“We seek therefore an honest, respectful and forthright dialogue that lets go [of] the past and explores and pursues mutual beneficial economic opportunities. We must respect one another and, of course, we are not going to be lecturing anyone, nor do we expect the vice versa. Our rapprochement will thus be characterized by new vibrant trade and economic relations,” Moyo said.
The former general said Zimbabwe would respect all trade agreements the previous administration had reneged on. He said he looked forward to countries like Brazil, China, Russia and India to continue assisting Zimbabwe as it negotiates with the West, which imposed sanctions on some ruling Zanu PF officials in 2002, following reports of election rigging and human rights abuses.
Without mentioning any country by name, Moyo said “An egocentric pursuit of foreign policy will be both blind and defeatist. In pursuit of common goals we cherish sincere and respectful discourse. Issues such as human rights, gender, disarmament and development should not be really contentious or even accusatory, because we should be cognizant at all times that there are no angels or devils in this common endeavor as we all fall short one way or the other. But what matters is, we are determined and principled and spirited to deal with those issues.”
Moyo said Zimbabwe’s next elections, expected by mid-2018, would be “free, fair, transparent and violence-free.”
But the director of the International Commission of Jurists in Africa, Arnold Tsunga, says a lot has to be done for that to happen.
“The expectation as understood by the International Commission of Jurists is that the new government needs to do everything that it can to create a basis on which there can be free, fair and credible elections in the next eight months, so that there can be a full return to civilian authority. ... So there are a number of steps that need to be done including the harmonization of the electoral laws [to make them] fully complaint with the 2013 constitution.”
Members of the International Commission of Jurists have been in Zimbabwe assessing the human rights situation in the country.