Mnangagwa seeking to win support of neighbours and international community

Image: Sunday Times.

Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa's regional tour has taken him to strategic Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries in a bid to win their support having come to power in November last year.

On his visit to South Africa last week he met President Jacob Zuma before engaging with ANC leader Cyril Ramaphosa.

"President Mnangagwa's first stopover was Pretoria in South Africa where he met President Jacob Zuma and ANC leader Cyril Ramaphosa‚" said presidential spokesperson George Charamba.

Having been propelled to power by the army through a soft coup‚ which later led to Mnangagwa rewarding army generals with cabinet posts‚ the situation in Zimbabwe‚ according to numerous critics‚ has become militarised.

A meeting with Angola's Joao Lourenco‚ the current SADC Organ on Politics‚ Defence and Security chairperson‚ was to‚ "brief his counterpart on the political situation in the country and the forthcoming harmonised elections".

Mnangagwa has also set his eyes on engaging the international community - his first official trip abroad was last week to the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos‚ Switzerland.

His office announced that he would be in China sometime in April on a similar mission.

Speaking before Zimbabweans living and working in Namibia on Monday‚ the president said he was hopeful that his spirited engagement with the international community would yield positive results.

"In relation to international relations‚ 35 minutes after I was sworn in I was sent an envoy [Britain’s Africa minister]‚ Mr Rory Steward‚ and the message was that they [Britain} would want to have good relations with Zimbabwe‚" he said.

During his time as a minister in Mugabe's cabinet‚ Mnangagwa lost numerous election bids to become a member of parliament‚ being appointed to the cabinet from outside parliament each time. As such‚ some analysts feel he could be a tough sell for the presidency but that he is up for the challenge.

"He now has official Twitter and Facebook pages. He is out to dispel that notion of him being a cold and ruthless individual. Although social media in the past has been the strength of Jonathan Moyo‚ now in hiding‚ the new establishment cannot ignore the power of social media. Mugabe used to discourage his ministers from it‚" said Zama Mkhwananzi‚ a political commentator.

Meanwhile‚ Zimbabwe is expected to go to the polls anytime before July 31‚ which marks the end of deposed president Robert Mugabe's 2013 mandate.

With fresh details emerging from Mnangagwa's meeting with opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai a fortnight ago‚ it appears the two leaders are not ready for elections.

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