Mugabe was frustrated by the former colonial master’s reneging on an agreement on land compensation, and relations soured on his watch.
The lowest ebb was when Mugabe withdrew Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth in 2003.
The change of tack under Mnangagwa is clear. He is determined to oversee Zimbabwe’s return to the international community.
Last month, Mnangagwa wrote to the Commonwealth seeking the country’s re-admission to the 53-member body, after a 15-year absence.
Foreign Affairs Minister Sibusiso Moyo has visited London on a charm offensive aimed at the UK government.
Political observers said the winning over of Britain by Mnangagwa was intended to lead to acceptance by the broader Western community.
Since Mnangagwa’s rise to power in November last year, the number of visitors from London beating a path to Harare, scouting for investment and to assess the political climate, has increased.
Some of the high profile visitors have included UK’s Minister of State for Africa Harriett Baldwin, Lord Peter Hain and British MPs.
In a recent research note, NKC African Economics said Zimbabwe officials had reiterated that the country was “open for business” and this was “reflected by the number of recent high-profile in-country visitors” and in Zimbabwean envoys’ persistent attempts to woo investors abroad.
“Noteworthy policy developments in Zimbabwe’s mining sector over the past few months have provided some encouragement as to what can be expected from this new administration. Zimbabwean politics is still a main point of interest, with the political focus shifting to general elections, due before end of July,” it said.
“ZANU-PF is likely to win the poll despite continuing division in the party and there will be some uncertainty over the legitimacy of the vote amid signs of localized rigging…We have had no reason to change our growth forecasts and we expect an economic contraction this year. Thereafter, GDP growth is expected to turn positive as the economy recovers in the medium term”.
Tara O’Connor, director of London-based Africa Risk Consulting, said Zimbabwe was a viable investment destination for Britain, despite the principal risk of the country’s politics, which had for so long been anathema to investment.
“The infrastructure remains reasonable; people are highly educated and skilled, although many skills have been forced abroad to the benefit of South Africa, Botswana and Britain. Zimbabwe has the advantage over other countries in that it has a comparatively deep capital market and a healthy stock exchange with several companies triple-listed,” she said.
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