Source: Frosty ties with US, Britain thawing | The Herald April 6, 2019
Freeman Razemba Senior Reporter
Zimbabwe’s relations with the United States and Britain are improving, with the Western powers extending help after the country was ravaged by a devastating cyclone recently, a gesture of goodwill that has shown that there is a warmer side of diplomacy. Cyclone Idai recently hit Zimbabwe, Malawi and Mozambique, leaving a trail of death and destruction, with close to two million people affected.
And, the disaster afforded Zimbabwe an opportunity to rediscover friendship with Britain and America.
Britain recently committed US$23 million in response to emergency needs of the three countries, while the US committed a further US$2,5 million to the country after making an initial donation of US$100 000.
The support from the British was announced by its Ambassador to Zimbabwe Ms Melanie Robinson recently after an hour-long meeting with President Mnangagwa at his Munhumutapa Building Office in Harare.
Ms Robinson said the British Royal family, led by Queen Elizabeth II, had sent letters of greetings and condolences to the people of Zimbabwe through President Mnangagwa.
The US Government has provided nearly $10 million in humanitarian assistance to help people in Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Malawi who have been affected by Cyclone Idai.
This includes US$100 000 to GOAL Zimbabwe to support water, sanitation, hygiene, and shelter for 36 400 individuals in cyclone-affected areas of Manicaland Province.
The two Western nations have pledged further assistance, a sign of their confidence in the country.
President Mnangagwa — who led the high-powered delegation of political leaders to Chimanimani on Thursday — also affirmed that relations between Zimbabwe, Britain and the United States were improving in his address at Ngangu.
He said the country was receiving overwhelming support from several countries as a result of his policy of engagement and re-engagement.
“As you are aware, our relations with Britain are not that sound because of the land issue, but after this disaster I received letters of consolation and support from Queen Elizabeth, her son Prince Charles and his son Prince William and his wife saying their relations with the people of Zimbabwe date back to several years ago. I was very happy since this has not happened before. We really appreciated what the Royal Family has done,” he said.
“What is even more interesting is that only yesterday (Wednesday), President Trump of the United States who imposed sanctions on us sent his ambassador to give us US$2,5 million. We are overwhelmed by the support we are receiving.
“The ambassador also said if there are other things we need, they have a station in South Africa and can also assist us with anything that we need.”
During the meeting with President Mnangagwa, US Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Brian Nichols hailed the Second Republic for implementing political and economic reforms.
He said while Washington had a long history in Zimbabwe, it had raised its concern over the two countries relations around issues of democracy, human rights and the respect for rule of law.
“We are happy that Government is focusing on and addressing these problems. I hope that the repeal of POSA, which has already been gazetted, will move forward and will generate additional path for the momentum in our relationship,” he said.
Cabinet has since approved the Maintenance of Peace and Order Bill, which seeks to repeal the Public Order and Security Act (POSA), Protection of Personal Information Bill and the Freedom of Information Bill whose thrust is to repeal the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA).
The approval of the principles of the two Bills demonstrates the determination by the Second Republic to pursue the reform agenda that will see the country move on a new trajectory in domestic and foreign policies under the stewardship of President Mnangagwa.
The repeal of POSA and AIPPA paves way for the opening up of democratic space and the enjoyment of freedoms and rights, moving away from the previous era before the advent of President Mnangagwa.
The principles of the Freedom of Information Bill are expected to create a legal framework outlining parameters for the exercise of the right to access to information as envisaged by the Constitution.
Further, President Mnangagwa has set up an inter-ministerial taskforce charged with addressing issues raised in the reports of observer missions to the 2018 harmonised elections as well as the findings of the Motlanthe Commission of Enquiry into the August 1 post-election violence.
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