BY MOSES MATENGA
ZIMBABWE is one of the countries that has not been invited to the United States democracy summit next month, with observers saying the snub confirmed the frosty relations between the two countries despite Harare’s efforts to re-engage with the international community.
The US Department of State said the first of the two summits would be held on December 9-10, 2021, where President Joe Biden would host a first-of-its kind gathering of more than 100 countries to help stop erosion of people’s rights and freedoms worldwide.
Among the invited African countries are Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Mauritius, South Africa and Zambia.
Cyprus, South Korea, Brazil and India have also been invited. The exclusion of Zimbabwe has raised eyebrows.
According to the organisers, the summit is meant to “set forth an affirmative agenda for democratic renewal and to tackle the greatest threats faced by democracies today through collective action.”
Asked why Zimbabwe was not part of the summit, the public diplomacy section at the United States embassy in Harare said: “We cannot comment on participation by individual countries or organisations”.
The embassy added: “The December 9-10 virtual summit for democracy will bring together leaders from a diverse group of the world’s democracies. In roughly a year’s time, a second in-person summit will take place. Both events will bring together heads of State, civil society, philanthropy, and the private sector, serving as an opportunity for world leaders to listen to one another and to their citizens, share successes, drive international collaboration, and speak honestly about the challenges facing democracy so as to collectively strengthen the foundation for democratic renewal.
“The initial summit will galvanise commitments and initiatives across three principal themes: defending against authoritarianism, fighting corruption, and promoting respect for human rights.”
Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa and Foreign Affairs deputy minister David Musabayana were not picking calls last night and did not respond to messages sent to them.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa last week claimed he met US President Joe Biden in Glasgow, Scotland, during the COP26 conference, with the Zimbabwean leader saying they had a fruitful discussion, adding that the re-engagement agenda was taking shape.
Relations between Washington and Harare have been frosty since 2000 when the US accused Zimbabwe of human rights abuses, land grab and corruption and imposed punitive sanctions.