WE, in the village, have tremendous respect for those that lay their cards on the table when engaging in matters of survival.

As we navigate the intricate web of international relations, it becomes imperative to uphold the fundamental principles of sovereignty, mutual respect and non-interference in political matters.

The relationship between Zimbabwe and its former coloniser, Britain, has been complex in the last two decades or so, particularly regarding issues such as sanctions and the Land Reform and Resettlement Programme. 

As the UK Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Peter Vowles, acknowledged the growth in trade relations between the two countries, it’s essential to address the lingering issue of sanctions and the historical context surrounding them.

According to Vowles: “The UK is proud that we have increased our trade, the UK/ Zimbabwe trade over the last 12 months, it increased by 76 percent. We want to see the increase improve over the coming year. We want to see (improvements) across a range of sectors….We talked about the UK-Zimbabwe relationship and the future….We continue to be a significant development partner and we want to focus on trade and investment so that we continue to connect the two peoples.”

Britain should take a bold stance by admitting that sanctions were a wrong move and advocate for their total removal. This should be accompanied by a commitment to constructive engagement, dialogue and support for Zimbabwe’s development aspirations. By doing so, Britain can contribute to a more positive and mutually beneficial relationship with Zimbabwe, based on common interests.

As a Zimbabwean deeply committed to the progress and prosperity of our nation, I emphasise the significance of genuine co-operation between Britain and Zimbabwe based on these core principles.

The Britons should know that at the heart of our discourse lies the principle of sovereignty, which encapsulates the inherent right of nations to govern themselves without external interference. Zimbabwe, like many African nations, has a rich history of struggle and resilience in asserting its sovereignty and self-determination. 

It is incumbent upon all nations, including Britain, to respect and uphold this fundamental right.

Non-interference in political matters is not a mere abstract concept but a concrete manifestation of respect for each nation’s autonomy and the will of its people. 

It means refraining from meddling in internal affairs, manipulating political processes or supporting proxies that undermine the sovereignty and democratic aspirations of other nations.

The sincerity of British co-operation with Zimbabwe, or any African nation for that matter, should be measured by its adherence to these principles of non-interference and mutual respect. 

Actions that contravene these principles, such as covert interventions, political maneuvering through proxies or attempts to dictate internal policies, undermine the foundation of genuine partnership and co-operation.

As Africans in general and Zimbabweans in particular, we call upon Britain to demonstrate its commitment to non-interference by refraining from any actions that impede Zimbabwe’s sovereign right to determine its political destiny. 

This includes avoiding covert operations, clandestine support for opposition groups, or any form of interference that undermines Zimbabwe’s democratic processes.

Furthermore, genuine co-operation entails engaging in open, transparent and constructive dialogue on issues of mutual interest. 

It is crucial to acknowledge that historical legacies, colonial experiences and power dynamics shape the dynamics of international relations. 

Britain, as a former colonial power with historical ties to Zimbabwe, has a responsibility to navigate these complexities with sensitivity, humility and a genuine desire for partnership based on equality and mutual benefit.

The call for Britain to stop skirting around the issue of sanctions and admit that it was a wrong move is not political posturing but about acknowledging historical injustices and moving towards a better working relationship and mutual respect. Sanctions were imposed during a period of heightened political tensions and the Land Reform and Resettlement Programme.

It’s essential to recognise that Zimbabwe’s land reform was a response to historical injustices and colonial legacies.

The Land Reform Programme aimed to address the imbalances created by colonial-era land ownership patterns, where the majority of arable land was owned by a minority of white settlers. It sought to redistribute land to landless black Zimbabweans, empowering them economically and socially. The programme was a crucial step towards addressing historical grievances and promoting social justice.

Britain, as a former colonial power, has a moral obligation to acknowledge the historical context of land reform in Zimbabwe and the impact of sanctions on the country’s development. Instead of continuing to uphold punitive measures or pretend that they are not there should be a shift towards admitting that the sanctions have done more harm to the average Zimbabwean.

The path to genuine co-operation between Britain and Zimbabwe lies in embracing a spirit of humility, empathy and mutual understanding. It requires transcending past grievances, acknowledging historical injustices and working together towards a shared vision of prosperity, stability and unity and not undermining Zimbabwe in any way.

The sincerity of British co-operation with Zimbabwe and other African nations hinges on upholding the principles of sovereignty, mutual respect and non-interference in political matters

Trade relations, as highlighted by Ambassador Vowles, should indeed be encouraged and expanded. However, it’s essential to couple economic co-operation with genuine efforts towards mutually beneficial relations,  understanding and addressing historical injustices. This approach is not only beneficial for Zimbabwe but also aligns with broader principles of international cooperation, peace building and sustainable development.

Businessman Tawanda Chenana is a philanthropist and ZANU PF Secretary for Education in Mashonaland East.


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