Shunned Mnangagwa plans meetings with SADC leaders on sidelines of UN General Assembly

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  • Zimbabwe’s Emmerson Mnangagwa plans to meet the Namibian and Angolan presidents for the first time since his inauguration.
  • He will also seek an audience with the UK’s minister for development and Africa.
  • The US Embassy in Harare has condemned ongoing post-election repression and attacks on the opposition.

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa is planning on meeting southern African heads of state who are currently at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA78) in New York.

This would be the first time he has had direct conversations with some of the SADC leaders since his controversial, and disputed, election victory in August.

Mnangagwa was inaugurated a week after the election results, and only three heads of state from the SADC – the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Felix Tshisekedi, Mozambique’s Filipe Nyusi and South Africa’s Cyril Ramaphosa – were in attendance.

Since then, Zimbabwe has been at loggerheads with Zambia after President Hakainde Hichilema’s open criticism of the the election process.

According to government spokesperson Nick Mangwana, Mnangagwa will have meetings with his closest allies, Ramaphosa and Nyusi.

He will also, for the first time since starting his second term, meet SADC chair, Angolan President João Lourenço, and Nambia’s Hage Geingob.

Mnangagwa had an international relations headache after observer missions flagged the elections as neither free nor fair.

The European Union – which has since decided to cut funding to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission – the Commonwealth, and SADC’s observer missions all released damning reports on the elections.

There are reports of ongoing post-election intimidation in Zimbabwe, targeted at opposition legislators and supporters.

In a statement, the US Embassy in Harare said: “We are concerned by reports of continued politically motivated violence and intimidation post-election. Every person, no matter their political affiliation, has the right to live free of fear and to be treated fairly under the law.”

Mangwana said the Zimbabwean president would also have an audience with Andrew Mitchell, the UK Minister of State in the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.

According to the diary, Mnangagwa is set to address the UN General Assembly any time between 15:00 and 15:45 on Thursday.

Meanwhile, during his address on Tuesday, Ramaphosa called for the removal of targeted sanctions against Zimbabwe, which he said were causing suffering among ordinary citizens and neighbouring countries.