On Tuesday Mumbengegwi, taking a leaf from President Robert Mugabe, lashed out at Western diplomats telling them that the country was not a “candidate for humanitarian assistance” as it had the capacity to look after itself.
“Just remove the sanctions,” the minister said.
Mumbengegwi would do well to trace the origins and history of diplomacy from ancient Egypt and Greece to modern diplomacy which emerged during the Renaissance. Any observer would realise that diplomacy, or at least public diplomacy, is all about building relationships, not destroying them.
It has evolved from being premised on exchanging rich gifts and arranged marriages to the posting of ambassadors resident in the receiving country.
Diplomacy may involve both overt and covert operations, but what goes in the public sphere are the sweet things, friendship and trade, and no sensible person is interested in hearing Mumbengegwi making declarations.
In what has become the vogue for Mumbengegwi and Mugabe, their timing of certain pronouncements is clearly devoid of strategy and renders useless efforts by the same government to have restrictions and sanctions imposed on the country lifted.
Mugabe relies on his graveside diplomacy which has severally backfired.
Instead of steering the country’s diplomatic ship back on track, Mumbengegwi reads the Mugabe script in a different voice.
Western diplomats walked out on Mugabe at the Heroes Acre earlier this month after he attacked Europe and the United States accusing them of bullying and poking their noses in the country’s affairs. The acerbic attacks by Mugabe are done under the guise of sovereignty and territorial integrity.
The concept of sovereignty, according to former South Africa President Nelson Mandela, should not be abused to deny the international community the right to intervene when “behind those sovereign boundaries, people are being slaughtered to protect tyranny”.
We expected Mumbengegwi to play a crucial role in ironing out our differences with the West and the US but, alas, he has taken the baton from Mugabe and decided to run with it into the bush by attacking the diplomats.
This has left us wondering if it is a case of public posturing with hushed genuine diplomatic efforts behind the scenes or is it the usual stuff of carpet bombing with the country isolated more than ever.
If one tries to put what Mumbegegwi said this week into perspective, it would be evident that the country’s foreign policy could be in the wrong hands, going against the grain of the inclusive government as well as the global political agreement (GPA).
Mumbengegwi should know the conditions for the removal of sanctions and no matter how much he lashes out at the local envoys, the embargoes will remain in place until the GPA is fully consummated.
Even if the sanctions were removed today, the country faces a plethora of humanitarian, social, economic and political problems which, to a certain extent, would need the intervention of international donors.
Zimbabwe has travelled rapidly, moving from a strong to a weak state, dithering on the brink of a failed state and to reverse this would not only require the removal of sanctions, but a focused administration.
We don’t need ministers like Mumbengegwi to implement our foreign policy based on their myopic worldview.