Your Excellencies, Ambassadors-Designate
Senior Officials of the Ministry and other Government Agencies here present
Let me begin by extending to you all my sincere congratulations on being designated to serve your country as Ambassadors Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary : and to say that I look forward to working closely with you as, together, we strive to achieve Vision 2030 and, within that context, bring our country back to where it should be and indeed where it deserves to be within the broad Community of Nations.
You will all have an active role to play within that process.
This Diplomatic Training Course, although brief, will help to provide you with an appropriate orientation before you set off on your new assignments. Further information and guidance will be provided by the relevant Head Office Directorates and by the support staff at your various Missions. In most cases, these officials have been in situ for some time, are familiar with the lay of the land, on-going programmes, challenges and so on, and will pave the way for a smooth entry into your Ambassadorial duties. Take full advantage of their knowledge and practical experience. You are the Head of Mission - Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary - but you can never hope to know it all.
Teamwork is key. Be an effective Team Captain : the results will come.
Be in no doubt : the assignment you have been given is an exceptionally high honour : it is an exceptionally rare honour. Less than 400 individuals have served as Ambassadors of Zimbabwe at our Missions abroad since Independence in 1980. Around 0.003% of our total population.
It is also an honour which will demand of you an exceptionally high level of commitment, dedication and even sacrifice.
The Letters of Credence you will present to your host Head of State are a very personal attestation of faith, confidence and trust vested in you by His Excellency the President. You will become his eyes and ears and his voice in your countries of accreditation.
If His Excellency has assented to your deployment as Head of Mission, it is because he has adjudged you deserving of this honour. It is incumbent upon you to live up to the high expectations he, I and all Zimbabweans have of you.
This training programme comes at an opportune time. It allows us to exchange views on the foreign policy thrust as enunciated by H.E the President : a foreign policy deeply rooted in the promotion and protection of our national interests, the interests of the region and continent more broadly : and all of it solidly anchored in and guided by the abiding spirit of Pan Africanism.
On your part, the training programme offers an occasion for frank discussions on key policy issues Government is advancing so as to meet the expectations of Zimbabweans and how the country’s development agenda can be understood and its image improved across the globe.
Challenges facing the country
As you are all aware, Zimbabweans are yearning for improvement in their lives and wellbeing. They are rightly demanding that Government should solve the myriad challenges facing the country : in particular, the high levels of poverty due to high levels of unemployment, a non performing economy, the tight fiscal space and a serious liquidity crunch, all affecting the performance of the economy. They are calling for improved service delivery by Government in all the social services of health, education, water and sanitation, and to offer them opportunities to improve their lives.
Climate change is another challenge that has negatively impacted on our people’s livelihoods, food security and the economy in general. The recent massive destruction and loss of life caused by Cyclone IDAI in the Eastern part of the country is a manifestation of the impact of climate change. It has become an existential problem and an ultimate example of an environmental constraint to development.
Government to focus on results
The Government is working assiduously to address these challenges with a view to mitigating their impact on our citizenry. We believe that while our country may face challenges, its positive attributes including its human resource capital, its rich natural resources and its central geographical location far outweigh them.
Government aspires to achieve sustained economic growth which contributes to sustainable economic development. Its objectives are achieving inclusive economic growth, the generation of decent jobs for all, affordable and reliable energy, food security, sustainable agriculture and development of reliable modern infrastructure. In addition, Government is determined to satisfy the expectations of our people across the political divide, who spontaneously demanded change and gave birth to the new era.
As our Ambassadors, you all have a role to contribute to these Government efforts.
The Ministry’s Mandate
The President’s inaugural address laid out the Foreign Policy thrust the Zimbabwe Government has adopted, and clearly identified the key obstacles which have previously hindered efforts to maximize our national interests. The Ministry is expected to give our nation a positive image to the outside world ; to underline our quest to be part of the international community and to make a meaningful contribution 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, with AU member states and with friendly countries which have stood with us during the difficulties we have faced over the past two decades.
The Ministry has been tasked by the President and Government to champion “rapprochement” and re- engagement with the Western world and with the International Financial institutions from which our country has been estranged for some considerable time.
The other main pillar of our mandate is to attract FDI, to promote trade, to source new markets for our products and to proactively promote Zimbabwe as a tourist destination.
Also critical to our Mission is the need to engage the Zimbabwean Diaspora so that it can more fully contribute to the development of the country through accessing investment opportunities and providing skills and expertise to key sectors of the economy.
I will have a bit more to say on the Diaspora later.
These multi-faceted responsibilities are clearly articulated 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”.
Strengthening relations with the region
As you are aware, Zimbabwe’s Foreign Policy comprises three concentric circles namely; (i) the immediate geographical region within which the country is situated, (Southern Africa), (ii) the African continent as a whole, and beyond that, (iii) the entire international community.
In the past year, the President has visited most of our neighbours, including South Africa, Botswana, Angola, Namibia, Mozambique, and Zambia to meet with his counterparts. He has updated them on the new Government and positive developments in the country, and assured them all of his commitment to work with them at both the bilateral and regional levels so as to promote cooperation, mutual peace and development within the SADC Region and beyond. The President has also used these visits to actively promote the strengthening of economic relations with all of our neighbours.
Zimbabwe, as a founding member of our regional grouping, SADC, will continue to fully subscribe to its development programmes and ideals. The country will continue to be an active member of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Co-operation which was primarily established as a mechanism for the prevention, management and resolution of conflict. As you are aware, Zimbabwe is currently Deputy Chair of the Organ and will assume the Chairmanship thereof as from August 2019.
Thus, Zimbabwe’s foreign policy thrust in the region will continue to emphasize cooperation and the maintenance of peace, stability and solidarity in order to achieve our development goals as a region.
Strengthening Bilateral Relations with African countries
Government is of the view that more needs to be done to strengthen political, socio-economic, cultural and scientific and technical cooperation with all other African countries : for the African Continent as a whole remains absolutely central to our foreign policy agenda.
The Ministry will actively promote bilateral ties through exchange of visits, holding consultations and Joint Commissions, and to further unlock economic opportunities that exist within the African Continent. As we work towards economic integration with and beyond our region, our focus must be on the need to increase intra-Africa trade and to vigorously promote the integration of African economies into global trading structures and value-chains.
Zimbabwe recently ratified the African Continental Free Trade Area - the ultimate building block towards an eventual common market embracing all 54 African states with a combined population of 1,3 billion and a collective GDP of around US$ 2,5 trillion.
Strengthening relations with friendly countries
Government also intends to strengthen its bilateral relations with key BRICs and Asian countries, especially China, India, Japan, South Korea, Russia and Brazil through exchange of visits, Joint Commissions and cooperation in various sectors of the economy. We are of the view that more cooperation in various economic sectors and more FDI can be sourced from these countries for the benefit our nation.
In this regard, visits have recently been undertaken to China, Russia, Kazakstan, Belarus, Azerbaijan, Qatar and the UAE : with successful or promising outcomes in all cases.
Rapprochement and re-engagement
The re-engagement efforts are a key component of the Ministry’s mandate. The main objective of the re-engagement process is to normalize all aspects of the country’s relations with the West. These include ending Zimbabwe’s estrangement from the Western world and re-opening lines of communication at the political level; to achieve the removal of sanctions and all other punitive measures imposed on Zimbabwe in order to unleash the country’s full economic potential; to restore confidence in our national economic policies and to project Zimbabwe as a nation that values democracy, respects human rights and the rule of law, upholds its international obligations, property rights and generally abides by all tenets of good governance.
The President and I have spearheaded the re-engagement efforts with the West and, notwithstanding the set-back caused by the events of 1 August 2018 and those of 14/15 January, 2019, the response has thusfar been generally positive and encouraging. A number of leading Western nations, including the USA, the UK, France, Germany etc have sent Special Envoys and delegations to the country since the dawn of the new era. The President has also sent Special Envoys to key Western countries, with messages of the Government’s willingness to open a new chapter and its desire to normalise relations. As Ambassadors, you are expected to actively pursue this re-engagement agenda and to create mechanisms for renewed and intensified dialogue with these countries so as to facilitate the broad re-engagement process.
Whilst the new dispensation has generated a lot of goodwill towards Zimbabwe in the West, it is important to note that they have adopted a cautious approach and are still not yet persuaded to abandon the sanctions and other punitive measures imposed on the country since the early 2000’s. All major Western countries have declared that the most critical benchmark for the removal of those sanctions is concrete evidence of both economic and political reforms. It is clear therefore that re-engagement will be more of a process than an event : that it will be anchored in confidence-building measures, sending the right signals with regard to reform and with regard to our commitment to the conduct of ‘decent politics’ : and the pursuit of economic policies that will restore and sustain macro-economic stability and that will provide guarantees on Government’s intentions to meet its international obligations.
As we aspire to have good and mutually beneficial relations with all in the international community, the Ministry will continue to exert its efforts to normalise relations for the benefit of the country. It is only fair that Zimbabwe be given an opportunity to work in harmony and collaboration with other countries and organizations in pursuit of its national interests. Your role in supporting and enhancing those efforts will be crucial.
The Ministry has been expanded and indeed rebranded to include International Trade so as to reflect the thrust articulated by His Excellency the President that, henceforth, the primary focus of our Diplomacy and of our diplomatic representation abroad must be trade, investment and tourism promotion - in other words, “economic diplomacy”.
There has been overall enthusiasm and positive reaction to the President’s economic development vision - Vision 2030 - and the related policy pronouncements. A number of potential investors in such fields as energy, mining, manufacturing, agriculture and the tourism/hospitality sectors have visited the country to explore, identify or firm-up on already identified investment opportunities.
There is an encouraging level of regional and international interest in the ongoing exercise to privatise a number of our State Owned Enterprises : an exercise which is gathering momentum and is likely to see a significant dilution of Government shareholding in such Entities as TelOne, NetOne, IDBZ, Agribank and POSB amongst many others.
You have a key role to play within this broad economic diplomacy agenda by actively seeking-out and engaging potential investors, countries and organisations that seek to establish and deepen business and economic relations with Zimbabwe. You must assiduously market the country as a preferred destination for investors and tourists.
Efforts are underway to create a conducive environment to attract significant and sustained FDI. Government is determined to protect all foreign investments including those covered by Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements (BIPPAs). Government has resolved to address all BIPPA violations and to compensate all those whose investments were affected by the land reform programme.
In the same spirit, you are all aware that the government is improving the ease of doing business in the country. Amendments have already been made to the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act to reflect that the 51-49 percent requirement now only applies to natural resource-based investments in diamonds and platinum. But even these restrictions are under active review for possible relaxation and the further opening-up of our economy to those who would wish to invest in these highly lucrative sub-sectors. Foreign investors are welcome to do business in all other sectors.
Under the Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP) Government is also increasing support for companies, both local and foreign, engaged in beneficiating our minerals and/or in adding value to our raw materials in order to produce competitive products and increase our foreign currency earnings.
Re-engagement does not only relate to western countries and western financial institutions. It relates equally to our domestic policies and is clearly reflected in His Excellency’s ongoing outreach to all sectors of our community including, of course, the process of National Dialogue which is slowly gathering momentum and impact.
From our perspective as the Foreign and International Trade Ministry, another key component of re-engagement is the Zimbabwean Diaspora.
It is important that you have a clear understanding of the national “Diaspora Policy” and that, wherever appropriate, you develop a clear strategy at your Missions aimed at reaching out to the Diaspora. They are our people and they deserve our attention and support. An important element of that outreach must be to encourage Zimbabweans abroad to lend themselves, their skills and expertise towards the rebuilding of our economy ; and to contribute towards economic recovery by way of channelling investment through the various platforms and mechanisms put in place by Government - specifically by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe. We have to ensure that the full potential of all our nationals abroad is marshalled so that they fully participate in the economic recovery of their homeland.
In all the visits the President has undertaken, he has met our Diaspora who have shown a keen interest in contributing to the development of their country and in advising on areas of potential cooperation for Zimbabwe in and with their respective host-countries.
As Heads of Mission, you are expected to fully open your doors to the Diaspora and to take advantage of their skills in their various fields of specialisation.
I urge you to also efficiently provide them with the consular services they seek at your Missions.
Zimbabwe and the AU
At the AU level, Government is committed to playing an active role towards the realisation of the Organisation’s goals and objectives. We will continue to support efforts by the African Union to promote peace, development and continental integration as envisaged in the AU’s Agenda 2063.
Zimbabwe associates itself with the common political values and systems enshrined in the African Union Constitutive Act as well as measures being crafted and implemented by the organisation in an effort to enhance integration, development and prosperity across the Continent.
Currently, Zimbabwe is serving on the 15 member African Union Peace and Security Council (PSC). This is important considering that the Council sets the peace and security agenda for the Continent. Government will also continue to contribute towards promoting peace and security on the continent and beyond by providing material assistance and by way of seconding personnel to AU/UN peacekeeping missions.
Zimbabwe and the UN
At the multilateral level, the UN has expressed its willingness to support the country under the Zimbabwe UN Development Assistance Framework (ZUNDAF). As an important development partner for the country, the UN is actively engaged in a wide variety of support and capacity-building programmes and projects across the country.
Zimbabwe fully subscribes to the UN’s founding principles and Charter and supports the maintenance of international peace and security; economic and social development; friendly relations among nations; and international cooperation, peaceful co-existence and the pursuit of common objectives. It will continue to be an active member of the UN and its ancillary bodies including the World Trade Organisation, the World Bank and the IMF.
Furthermore, at all multilateral fora, we will continue to be guided by forging solidarity and cohesion with other developing countries through organisations such as the Non-Aligned Movement; and promoting South-South cooperation through the Group of Seventy Seven (G77) and China with the overall goal of promoting development, international solidarity, peace and security in the global village.
The increasing complexity and globalisation of developments in the political, economic, social and environmental fields require us all to be up to the task and fully versatile in dealing with these critical issues. You have a big role to play in critiquing developments in your countries of accreditation and analysing how they affect Zimbabwe, the region and the continent as a whole. In parallel, you have a responsibility to clearly and effectively disseminate Zimbabwe’s positions and concerns in the international arena so that our country’s voice is heard, and our needs are recognised and addressed.
To that end, there are a number of topical issues dominating the current international agenda with which you must be well conversant. These include the Sustainable Development Goals and the related Global Agenda 2030; poverty eradication, international trade; health issues; the environment and climate change; migration; international peace and security; reform of the UN including, of course, the Security Council; the International Financial Institutions; and terrorism.
These issues are important to us and affect our country. Our responses to these challenges, obviously, will be informed by the necessity for us and our regional partners to advance our common interests and to ensure that Southern Africa develops in a peaceful, stable and secure environment.
Your programme over the coming two weeks or so will include detailed presentations on all these and a range of other important issues, and will provide you with a deeper understanding thereof.
Let me conclude by reiterating that the Ministry’s task is to reposition, rebrand and reinvigorate the image of the country internationally. I call upon you to prioritise the issues I have alluded to and, most importantly, to strive to look for economic opportunities that can yield dividends for the country and our people.
Advancing Zimbabwe’s national interests is a task for all of us and requires a regular exchange of views between head-office and your stations to strengthen unity of purpose in steering the implementation of our foreign policy.
To succeed, I want you to be results oriented, focused and efficient in your operations. You will all be judged by your results, by the relationships you build and the economic benefits you bring to the country - specifically in terms of enhanced trade, investment and tourism inflows.
The point I am making is that enhanced trade, investment and tourism inflows are very much a key result area for you personally.
Heads of Mission can no longer assign economic diplomacy to subordinates in the form of trade or tourism attaches whilst they themselves concentrate on perfecting the art of the diplomatic cocktail circuit.
It is the Head of Mission who is expected to drive economic diplomacy and it to you, personally, that I will be looking for results.
Progress will be measured, of course, on the basis of where we are today in terms of trade and investment flows and tourist arrivals relative to your country/ies of accreditation.
Prior to departure for your new assignment, you are advised to engage Zimtrade, ZTA, Ministry of Industry and Commerce and Ministry of Finance and Economic Development in order to build up a comprehensive, accurate understanding of the broad economic relationship between Zimbabwe and your country/ies of accreditation : and to use that data as a form of benchmark with which (i) to plan your Mission strategy for the way , (ii) to set deliverables/targets for yourselves (to be shared with and agreed by Head Office) and (iii) to measure your level of success….or lack of success as you implement that strategy.
A brief document will be availed to you setting out in concise form
- the kind of information you need to gather, maintain and update in order to establish that baseline benchmark,
- the kind of focus you need to bring to our economic diplomacy thrust,
- the core promotional/outreach elements which you need to build into your Mission strategy and which you will use to define your performance targets/objectives, and
- the core elements to be included in your regular progress reports to Head Office;
For some of you, this will be rather new territory : but it is territory with which you will have to become very familiar very quickly.
A final challenge. You are expected to do all this, to work tirelessly, to produce more - notwithstanding the totally inadequate resources placed at your disposal.
Make good use of what you have and seek, always, to put the national interest well ahead of your own personal interests and concerns. Anything less than such dedication and commitment will result in failure : and failure is a luxury we cannot afford or entertain.
My sincere congratulations, once more, on your elevation and your Ambassadorial appointments. I know you will not let me or His Excellency down and that you will prove fully equal to the onerous national task you have all been assigned.
Good Luck to you all.
I thank you.