By Idah Mhetu
THE decision by the United Kingdom to exit the European Union provides Zimbabwe’s former colonial master with a chance to resolve its “bilateral” dispute with Zimbabwe, President Emmerson Mnangagwa has said.
Mnangagwa said this while on a State visit to Namibia last week as Britain struggles to break free of the Europen Union (EU) under a plan that has been code named Brexit.
The programme has already claimed the scalps of two Prime Ministers, David Cameron who called the referendum that decided Britain would leave, and his successor Theresa May.
New Prime Minister Boris Johnson has promised to deliver Brexit before the end of the year and Mnangagwa wants to take advantage of that adding he sees opportunities for Zimbabwe.
“In our engagement and re-engagement foreign policy approach, we are telling Europe to make sure the United Kingdom goes out of the EU with its baggage, Zimbabwe. The UK must leave Europe without British baggage.
“Then we can deal with the bilateral issue between us and the United Kingdom,” said Mnangagwa in Windhoek.
The Zanu PF leader said his Foreign Minister Sibusiso Moyo and other envoys have traversed Europe and feedback shows the idea has the support of influential EU members.
“I think that approach is receiving traction. My Minister of Foreign Affairs and others have been to several capitals in Europe and that point is receiving positive indications in Europe.
“It is also our belief that as the UK leaves the EU, it is likely to look for new friends and its only this morning or was it yesterday (Thursday) that the new Prime Minister was sworn in,” the Zimbabwean leader told journalists.
Moyo was harassed by Zimbabweans in the UK two weeks ago angry at the deteriorating economic and political situation.
Mnangagwa has embarked on austerity measures that have resulted in massive increases in the prices of basic commodities while salaries have remained static.
On the other hand, government’s decision to discontinue the multi-currency regime dominated by the US dollar to adopt a local currency has not gone down well with many citizens.
The Zanu PF leader in his bid to return Zimbabwe to the international community after almost two decades of isolation has applied for re-admission into the Commonwealth a club of mainly former British colonies.
Former President Robert Mugabe angrily pulled out after the country got suspended over human rights abuses and poll theft.
Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe wanted to return because the source of dispute is over.
“We were never expelled from the Commonwealth. We made a deliberate decision to leave the Commonwealth. We were facing a decision either to remain in the Commonwealth and abandon our land reform or continue with the land reform and leave. We chose to continue with the land reform and now we want to go back,” he said.