WHILE President Emmerson Mnangagwa returned home last week blowing his own trumpet about his purported diplomatic victory at the United Nations climate change summit in Glasgow, the reality that he made very little headway has immediately dawned on him.
Hardly a week after Mnangagwa returned to Harare, United States President Joe Biden excluded him from the Democracy Summit, set to be held virtually on 9 and 10 December, exposing Harare’s diplomatic naivety.
A hundred countries have been invited for the democracy summit, including Angola, Botswana, Cape Verde, DRC, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia Malawi, Mauritius, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, South Africa and Zambia from Africa.
Biden’s exclusion of Mnangagwa from his democracy summit shows a huge vote-of-noconfidence in him despite Mnangagwa trying to portray a picture of a reformed leader.
It is also a major blow for Mnangagwa’s regime which was last week claiming diplomatic victories in Glasgow based on half-truths, deception and lies around its futile anti-sanctions campaign and re-engagement mission.
The summit will focus on challenges and opportunities facing democracies and provide a platform for leaders to make commitments to defend democracy and human rights at home and abroad.
For the US, the Biden summit will offer an opportunity to listen, learn, and engage with a diverse range of actors whose support and commitment is critical for global democratic renewal, the State Department says.
It also says the summit will “showcase one of democracy’s unique strengths: the ability to acknowledge its weaknesses and imperfections and confront them openly and transparently, so that we may, as the United States constitution puts it, ‘form a more perfect union’.”
“In advance of the first summit, we are consulting with experts from government, multilateral organisations, philanthropies, civil society, and the private sector to solicit bold, practicable ideas around three key themes: Defending Against Authoritarianism; Addressing and Fighting Corruption; Advancing Respect for Human Rights,” the State Department said.
America has said it will not comment on why certain countries were excluded, but The NewsHawks understands that Zimbabwe’s protracted grisly human rights record and brutal repression got it removed from the list of countries to be invited by Biden to the Democracy Summit.
Mnangagwa has tried everything to paint a picture of a reformed government and get sanctions against individuals and companies linked to human rights abuses lifted, from hiring public relations firms, staging marches, and even roping in the church, none of that seems to have worked. It is only this week that signed the Instrument of Ratification of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance, “the Charter”.
Legal think-tank Veritas yesterday said although President Mnangagwa signed the Charter on 21 March 2018 at an Africa Union Summit, his signature alone was not sufficient to make Zimbabwe a “state party” and as such legally bound by the Charter’s provisions.
“Why it took so long after Parliamentary approval for the Instrument of Ratification to be placed before President Mnangagwa for signature is a mystery. As readers of our various bulletins will know, Veritas has repeatedly, over the past two-and-a-half years, called for the ratification process to be completed,” Veritas said in a bulletin.
World politics professor at the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London Stephen Chan said Zimbabwe has not made enough progress to be invited to the summit.
“The Democracy Summit is very much to discuss democracy and progress towards democracy. Even a country like Angola has been invited because, even though the same party is in power, the new president is seeking to overturn the corrupt legacy of his predecessor,” he said.
“There is neither assured electoral democracy in Zimbabwe, nor, within the same party, any sense of a determination to reform itself. So Zimbabwe was not invited because it had nothing to contribute. If Zimbabwe had initiated open and equal dialogue — and the outside world does see this as between Mnangagwa and his closest rival, Chamisa — it would have been invited.”
Analyst Maxwell Saungweme said the exclusion showed that the world leaders can see through Mnangagwa.
“This means the world leaders can see through the propaganda, the lack of democratic reforms in Zimbabwe under Mnangagwa and his tactics of entrenching his authoritarian consolidation. It will be amiss to have Mnangagwa at a platform where democracy is discussed,” Saungweme said.
“But there is also limited value in these initiatives by superpowers. Validation of Mnangagwa’s rule must come from Zimbabweans. He must spend his time explaining his progress to Zimbabweans and telling his story about reforms he has made if any and progress realised.”
According to international relations expert Simbarashe Mataruse relations are always work in progress.
“And this particular one seems to be affected by increasingly frosty geopolitical relations between the US on one hand and China, Iran and North Korea on the other. An illustration in recent times is the Australia submarine treaty with the US. Our re-engagement will likely bear fruit, but we need to sharpen our strategies and avoid contradictory messaging,” he said.
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