“Glasgow Trip Very Expensive But No Concrete Results”

President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s visit to Glasgow, Scotland, for the COP26 Summit, was a missed opportunity for Zimbabwe to meaningfully engage world leaders on climate matters, an analyst has said.

According to Stephen Chan, Professor of World Politics at SOAS, University of London, Mnangagwa reduced his trip to the United Kingdom to optics and grandstanding on re-engagement with the West.

Reports indicate that Zimbabwe’s neighbour and major trading partner, South Africa, South Africa secured an US$8.5 billion deal from the United Kingdom, United States and the European Union to curb high carbon emissions and develop new renewable energy projects.

Chan told The NewsHawks that while South Africa was scoring big in climate change initiatives, Mnangagwa was relishing photo opportunities with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and US President Joe Biden and returned home empty-handed. Said Chan:

Basically, in British terms, and in terms of contact with other high-level delegations to COP26, the Mnangagwa visit accomplished almost nothing.

It seemed under-planned, without a clear strategy, and without any discernible lobbying or media expertise. It was a very expensive trip with no concrete results.

Chan said Mnangagwa’s visit had no significance for the country’s re-engagement drive which has gone off track in the past three years. He added:

Most of the British public had no idea Mnangagwa was visiting Britain. There were a huge number of important world leaders gathered briefly together in one place and many of them said important things about the environment — which is what the COP26 was all about.

In terms of re-engagement initiatives while in Britain, there was no impact whatsoever.

While other world leaders made headlines, the Zimbabwean delegation hogged the limelight for booze and partying in Glasgow.

Images of ZANU PF supporters clad in party regalia and pushing trolleys full of expensive booze were a public relations disaster for Mnangagwa.

Chan also dismissed Mnangagwa’s claims that he had made meaningful contact with Johnson. Said Chan:

There were no secret side meetings between Mnangagwa and Boris Johnson and, as far as I know, no side meetings involving senior personnel in the Zimbabwean delegation with senior personnel in the UK Foreign Office.

My Foreign Office friends report no such activity or efforts to initiate any side meetings.

Chan asserted that despite Mnangagwa’s grandstanding, any re-engagement with the West would have to be premised on genuine political reforms.

Meanwhile, on his return home on Thursday, Mnangagwa bragged to ZANU PF supporters who had been bussed to welcome him at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport, saying Johnson was excited to meet him. 

More: The NewsHawks

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