ZIMBABWE’S FOREIGN POLICY
What is Foreign Policy?
The Foreign Policy of a country can be defined as a set of goals that seek to outline how that country will interface at an official level with other countries of the world and, to a lesser extent, with non-state actors in pursuit of its national economic, political, social and cultural interests.
In order to realise maximum benefit from its interaction with other countries, as well as to promote or influence some change in the policies, attitudes or actions of another state to achieve favourable goals, a country needs to also evaluate and monitor a broad spectrum of factors relating to those other countries. These factors could be economic, political, social, and military among many others.
The formulation and implementation of a foreign policy is therefore primarily based on a country’s desire or obligation to foster and protect its national interests, national security, independence, sovereignty, ideological goals and economic prosperity.
Zimbabwe’s Foreign Policy Objectives
Zimbabwe’s foreign policy objectives are grounded in safeguarding the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity; the protection of its prestige and image ; the pursuit of policies that improve the standard of living of all Zimbabweans wherever they are; and the creation and maintenance of an international environment conducive for the attainment of these goals.
In the creation and pursuit of these objectives, Zimbabwe is guided by its belief in self-determination and support for liberation movements; adherence to the principle of national sovereignty; respect for territorial integrity of all countries; promotion of the principle of equality among nations; belief in non-discrimination, whether based on colour, creed, religion or other forms; and the promotion of peaceful settlement of disputes and non-interference in the internal affairs of other states.
In simple terms, Zimbabwe’s Foreign Policy, as with that of any other country, is an extension of its domestic policy since it is the supreme national interest that drives the conception of a country’s foreign policy. The fundamental principles of national security, national economic well-being and the image of the country that transcends the image of the Government of the day therefore form the foundation of Zimbabwe’s foreign policy.
Formulation of Foreign Policy
The creation and enunciation of Foreign Policy is a prerogative of the Head of State or Government. It is then articulated either by the Head of State or Government or by the Minister of Foreign Affairs. In some instances, the legislature may also have considerable oversight in formulating such policy.
Zimbabwe’s Foreign Policy is formulated through a transparent participatory or consultative process involving various stakeholders at various levels.
The President of the Republic of Zimbabwe sets the parameters of Zimbabwe’s Foreign Policy, whilst Government Ministries, for example the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Defence, Industry and Commerce, Regional Integration and International Co-operation, Health and Child Welfare and Transport and Infrastructural Development, play a significant role in moulding, shaping and refining the country’s Foreign Policy. The Parliament of Zimbabwe has a direct input into Zimbabwe’sForeign Policy through Parliamentary debates and the ratification of foreign and international treaties.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in particular is charged with the responsibility of co-ordinating the implementation of Zimbabwe’s Foreign Policy through its interface with foreign envoys in Zimbabwe and abroad, relying mainly on its personnel at Head Office and at its diplomatic Missions located strategically throughout the globe.
Implementation of Zimbabwe’s Foreign Policy
The implementation of Zimbabwe’s Foreign Policy is guided by a number of considerations, namely, forging regional, political, economic and cultural co-operation with Zimbabwe’s neighbors as well as with the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) regions; promoting African unity and solidarity through the African Union (AU); development through regional and sub-regional initiatives; promoting solidarity and cohesion among developing countries through such organizations as the Non-Aligned Movement; promoting South-South cooperation through the Group of Fifteen (G15), the Group of Seventy Seven (G77) and other organisations; and promoting international peace, security and co-operation through the United Nations.
The pursuit of Zimbabwe’s Foreign Policy is clearly demonstrated by Zimbabwe’s commitment to the furtherance of international peace, security and the search for sustainable economic development in various spheres. The pursuit of these objectives can help to explain for instance, Zimbabwe’s military role in support of Mozambique’s campaign against RENAMO rebels during the 1980s, its military engagement in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in the 1990s as well as Zimbabwe’s distinction in UN-peacekeeping operations in Angola, Somalia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Kosovo and East Timor.
The President’s inaugural address in November 2017, laid out the Foreign Policy thrust the Zimbabwe Government has adopted as well as tackling key obstacles that have previously hindered our efforts to maximize our national interests.
The Ministry is expected to give our nation a positive image to the outside world that underlines our quest to be part of the international community and to contribute to the achievement of global peace and development.
In addition, the Ministry is expected to assure, build and deepen mutually beneficial relations with our neighbours, AU countries and friendly countries which have stood with us during the difficulties we have faced during the past two decades.
The Ministry has been tasked by the President and Government to champion the rapprochement and re- engagement with the Western world and International Financial institutions which the country had been estranged from.
The Ministry has been rebranded to include International Trade, so as to reflect the realities of our new political dispensation of focusing on economic and trade diplomacy.
The other main pillar of our mandate is to attract Foreign Direct Investment and promoting Zimbabwe as a tourist destination.
The Ministry has been tasked to engage the Zimbabwean diaspora so that it can fully contribute to the development of the country through accessing investment opportunities and providing their skills to key sectors of the economy.
All the above are pronounced in the Ministry’s Mission Statement which is “To promote the political and economic interests, image and influence of the Republic of Zimbabwe in the international community and to protect the interests and safety of Zimbabwean nationals abroad”.