This week the Sunday Express caught up with top Zimbabwe opposition leader Douglas Mwonzora, leader of the MDC Alliance, and asked him a few questions about Zimbabwe’s conduct of foreign affairs in recent months.
This is what he said.
Mozambique is boiling over, just across our border to the East. Your thoughts?
We are aware of the war that has erupted in Cabo Delgado. As early as 2018, as a member of the Senate Thematic Committee on Peace and Security I exorted the government to pay attention to the sad developments in Mozambique.
I was largely ignored. The developments in Mozambique will have a profound effect on Zimbabweans especially those living along the border with Mozambique.
Newspapers are saying that Zimbabwe has got boots on the ground in Mozambique?
We are not aware of the deployment of Zimbabwean forces in Mozambique. The constitution of Zimbabwe provides in Section 213(3) provides for the circumstances under which the President may authorize the deployment of armed forces.
Our own view is that there must be peace in Mozambique. Zimbabwean forces must operate under the auspices of SADC in terms of standing protocols if they are to be deployed in Mozambique.
If there is to be deployment, it must be for purposes of peace keeping and defense of the civilian population of Mozambique and Zimbabwe.
What should President Mnangagwa do, if there is indeed there is a deployment?
The President must inform Parliament and the nation of the deployment of Zimbabwean forces. This is because in terms of the constitution Parliament has power to rescind the deployment of armed forces if it were to adjudge this deployment to be unjustified.
As things stand there is no information on the deployment of any Zimbabwean forces in Mozambique which has been availed to Parliament. We believe that Zimbabweans must be informed of the deployment if any has happened.
As stated before we are unaware of this deployment. What we know is that the situation in Cabo Delgado is dire. Over 700 000 people have been internally displaced while hundreds have been murdered.
The international investors have poured about US$50 billion in Mozambique for the exploitation of Liquid Natural Gas in Cabo Delgado. This is in danger of being lost much to the detriment of Mozambique and the region.
Status of Zimbabwe’s foreign relations with key foreign powers
As the MDCT we recently held a meeting with the European Ambassadors and heads of mission accredited to Zimbabwe. Among other things they expressed concern about the humanitarian situation in Mozambique. We share those concerns.
I don’t think there are any meaningful sanctions from the European Union because most of these were lifted in 2013. However, there are still targeted sanctions from the United States.
Our position is that Zimbabwe must be fully integrated as a member of the international community. So there has to be re-engagement with the international community.
However, any positive movement by the international community must be matched by an equally positive movement by Zimbabwe in instituting key and tangible social, political and economic reforms calculated to change the lives of the Zimbabwean people for the better.
Zimbabwe has been under sanctions for two decades. However, this has not benefited the Zimbabwean people. In fact sanctions are hurting the common man and woman. Those apparently targeted are not being affected. Therefore we do not support sanctions against Zimbabwe as they are no longer of any strategic value to our people.
Zimbabwe’s new Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade
Minister Frederick Shava was recently sworn into the Senate. He has not yet advised us as to his key priority areas. So we don’t know what his thrust is going to be.
But we think that there must be serious efforts to ensure Zimbabwe’s re-engagement with the international community.
The country must normalize its relations with the west and the bilateral problems with the United Kingdom must be resolved. We need to join the Commonwealth as a matter of urgency.
The security situation in Mozambique will definitely have an adverse effect on Zimbabwe and therefore diplomatic efforts to end the war must be intensified. Most of the western countries point out to Zimbabwe’s sordid human rights record.
The country must be seen to be making efforts to redress the human rights issues.
It must promote real national peace and reconciliation efforts as well as deal with the issues relating to post-conflict justice emanating from Gukurahundi, Operation Murambatsvina and the 2008 violence among others.
Our country must be seen to be enfranchising rather than disenfranchising its people. To that end Zimbabweans in the diaspora must be allowed to vote.
Senator Douglas Mwonzora was talking to the Zimbabwe Digital Sunday Express.
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