Does Johnson bring Zim hope?

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Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

JUDGING by previous occasions when the new British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has given his views on Zimbabwe, it looks like the re-engagement drive with Britain is going to bear fruit.

It should not be surprising to once more see a problematic area between Zimbabwe and Britain being solved by a Conservative Government.

Still fresh in our memories is the deceptive rhetoric by the Labour Party’s Harold Wilson and the pragmatism by Conservative Margaret Thatcher as we battled for our independence.

We have come a long way with our former colonial rulers.

We must also accept that our relations with Britain soured after the then Labour Premier, Tony Blair, reneged on a promise by the British Government.

By the Lancaster House Agreement Britain had pledged to compensate British settler farmers who had lost their land.

And yet it was the settlement of this emotive land question which had averted a collapse of the Lancaster constitutional talks.

All this was happening in the eyes of Johnson.

When he was still Mayor of London, Johnson publicly accused Blair of  ‘messing’ up things in Zimbabwe.  

He even laid the blame for the hostile relations that had developed between Britain and Zimbabwe at the feet of the Labour Party, specifically Tony Blair.

Indeed for all those who care to find out the root cause of the rift with Britain, the reason is very clear.

Blair’s condescending attitude that led him to tear to shreds a sealed agreement is to blame.

The new Conservative leader has since recognised this.

But the adverse effects of the disengagement created by a Labour Government have been double-edged.

Since we had been mutual partners of a flourishing trade, both sides are bound to count the cost of their losses caused by the breaking ties.

Apart from trade, the British, who had taken Zimbabwe as their second home, must be having nostalgic memories of what they are missing.

This includes climate and our natural resources.

The new British PM has promised that Britain will be out of the EU by October 31 2019.

The former colonial giant with once an ‘empire’ that sprawled across the width and breadth of the world would not like to feel lonely after Brexit.

Johnson is bound to seek the strengthening of relations with former Commonwealth allies, Zimbabwe included.

And this has come at a time when Zimbabwe is on a vigorous re-engagement campaign.

Johnson, when pointing out Blair’s blunder, pointed out how Zimbabwe was an indispensable economic partner.

The new British PM is therefore bound to look for markets outside Europe if he is dreaming of making Britain ‘great again’.

We are therefore expecting to see Johnson rebuilding old friendships and high among these should be Zimbabwe.

He has to go no further than the Commonwealth.

Even when he was still the British Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Johnson was on record supporting Zimbabwe  rejoining the Commonwealth.

Johnson has even acknowledged the political and economic reforms being undertaken by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Government, which he says are a prerequisite for mending the broken fences.

When Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Sibusiso Moyo met Johnson last year in Britain, he was assured together with other Commonwealth foreign ministers, of the British’s desire to see Zimbabwe back as a member of the Club.

Thus if we look at the imperatives created by Brexit and Johnson’s public pronouncements, the new British PM should not be an obstacle in our re-engagement efforts.

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