President Robert Mugabe on Tuesday said he is ready for friendly relations with Western countries who have previously been critical of his leadership. Speaking at the opening of parliament, Mugabe who looked jovial said: “Our country remains in a positive stance to enter into fresh,
friendly and cooperative relations with all those countries that have
been hostile to us in the past.”
This is a swift turnaround for the controversial politician who only last September accused the West of employing “filthy, clandestine, divisive” tactics to undermine Zimbabwe’s government. The West, he said, should lift the “illegal” sanctions which is hurting Zimbabwe.
The European Union in August dispatched a high-level delegation to
Harare, the first visit in seven years for talks with Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai. On the eve of the visit, Mugabe lambasted “bloody whites” for interfering in Zimbabwe’s affairs.
In response the West indicated that the sanctions, contrary to the aging president’s insinuations, targeted Mugabe and his Zanu PF cronies and not Zimbabwe. The sanctions include travel bans and accessing their assets abroad.
“Our re-engagement with the EU bloc is gathering momentum,” said Mugabe. “However, as our inclusive government re-engages the Western
countries, we expect those countries that have imposed illegal sanctions, which have hurt and continue to hurt our economy and the generality of our people, to remove them,” he added.
Mugabe got a rare applause from the house when called for unity among
his countrymen saying, “Together let us build the bridges of amity, forgiveness, trust and togetherness”.
But analysts say Mugabe’s mild address are signs “of coming to grips”
with reality on the ground. “He now seems to realize that he can not go on insulting the West and at the same time appeal to foreign investors to return in Zimbabwe. But it’s early days to come up with a full assessment of his speech. Actions on the ground would vindicate him” said Arnold Chiravu an independent political commentator in Harare.
December last year, the Zimbabwean president launched a tirade of verbal abuses against British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown. “Mr. Brown your thinking must undergo some medical correction. Let us remember that we are not dealing with honest people, they want to find an excuse to re-colonize us…” Mugabe had said.