By Leopold Munhende
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa was all smiles Monday as he rubbed shoulders with the world’s top leaders, taking pictures and sharing light moments on the global stage in what his allies claim it’s a major score for his re-engagement agenda.
Mnangagwa, the first Zimbabwean leader invited to the United Kingdom (UK) in over 20 years after the latter placed travel restrictions on Zanu PF leaders at the height of a major bilateral dispute in 2002.
Apart from the formal pictures with host UK leader Boris Johnson and United Nations (UN) secretary general Antonio Guterres, Mnangagwa was seen with EU President Charles Michel.
“Thank you, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Antonio Guterres for welcoming me to #COP26,” Mnangagwa moments after picture moments.
“As the first president of Zimbabwe to visit the UK in a quarter of a century, it is clear that re-engagement is working,” he said.
Mnangagwa who was accompanied by some 100 people, found time to talk to fellow African colleague, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta.
According to presidential spokesperson George Charamba, eight religious leaders are also part of the entourage that has taken the trip as another opportunity to get rid of restrictions imposed on the country’s leadership and a number of companies.
“Preparatory briefing at about 0230HRS early this morning. No time to waste. An integral component on the side-lines of the Glasgow Summit is our anti-sanctions push. Some eight clerics travelled with the President and are set to meet with religious and political leaders to press against illegal sanctions on Zimbabwe!” Charamba said on Twitter.
Their denominations or religion was not shared.
The engagements came a day after Information ministry permanent secretary Nick Mangwana announced a night of merry making in celebration of his arrival.
In a Twitter post Monday, Mangwaga said: “President Mnangagwa held a number of bilateral meetings on the side-lines of the COP26. This included Victoria Ford, the UK minister for Africa and the Palestinian Prime Minister H.E Dr Mohammed Shtayteh. He is also scheduled to meet Commonwealth SG (Secretary General) Baroness Scotland tomorrow.”
However, as he enjoyed rare access to the world’s most powerful, a few hundred Zimbabweans gathered outside the COP26 venue to demonstrate against Mnangagwa’s disregard for basic human rights and failure to deal with the growing scourge of corruption.
They demanded that he stop abducting innocent people, he stops corruption and the disregard for human rights.