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Zimbabwe has reiterated its willingness to engage the West and normalise relations, a senior Government official has said.

Foreign Affairs Deputy Minister Christopher Mutsvangwa told a two-day conference organised by the Southern Africa Political and Economic Series (SAPES) Trust and the US National Endowment Democracy (NED) this week that Zimbabwe was willing to have good ties with West.

He was responding to statements by some participants on the frosty state of relations between Zimbabwe and the European Union and United States.

“I want to say that the concerns which have been raised by my fellow diplomatic colleagues and countrymen are practical and need attention. I want to take them to my Government so that we can improve the atmosphere of exchange between the West and my Government,” he said.

“It’s an assignment which I have already been engaged in and I am happy to say that the response which I have been getting from various countries including those who are EU member countries has been very good.”

The conference was held under the theme “Reinforcing Zimbabwe’s Process: A Dialogue to Reinforce Engagement”.

Deputy Minister Mutsvangwa said Zimbabwe was focused on economic development and stood ready to ease tensions with the West.

“I am also happy to say that I am getting similar support within the Government, there is a new appreciation that we have been moving on to a new page in our global initiatives with everybody. So we will and the intention to engage is there and we will continue to explore ways to do so,” he said.

He said developing friendly ties was a consistent aspect of Government policy.

Relations broke down when Western countries imposed economic sanctions on Zimbabwe after Harare embarked on the revolutionary land reform programme to correct colonial tenure imbalances.

“It is not every time that a small African country gets locked in a battle for survival with powerful countries, some of them masters of the universe,” Deputy Minister Mutsvangwa said. “We feel proud that 10 years down the line we survived that difficult period.”

He said he was happy that the opposition and the West now acknowledged that Zanu-PF dominated the country’s political discourse.

“Once that acknowledgement has been made, it makes it very easy to . . . engage in dialogue. But that has not been the reality in the last 10 to 15 years there was a perception that Zanu-PF is transient and that what happened . . . when we brought about Independence was like a nothing.

“The respect we are getting now should make things much easier,” he said.

The deputy minister went on: “Another positive thing out of the last two to three weeks is that we have seen the brittleness of some political parties. That means that Zanu-PF was right to defend the territory because the fragility of those political parties would have eventually descended on the nation of Zimbabwe.

“I don’t know how we could have survived in the fragility which is being exhibited by the MDC now.”

Source : The Herald

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