President Mnangagwa left Harare for London last night, and will tomorrow join world leaders, celebrities and more than 2 000 guests for the coronation of King Charles III, the monarch of the United Kingdom.
The President was seen off at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport by Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, Defence and War Veterans Affairs Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, Cabinet ministers, service chiefs and senior Government officials.
The British Ambassador to Zimbabwe Melanie Robinson was also at the airport to see the President off to the coronation.
On Wednesday, President Mnangagwa told a Zanu-PF Youth League Conference that the invitation to attend the King’s coronation heralds a new era in relations between Zimbabwe and the UK.
“I will be going to King Charles’ coronation. So I asked why, when they have put sanctions on us and they said we have removed them please attend,” the President said.
The visit by President Mnangagwa to London, indeed marks a new chapter in the relations between the two countries, which have, for more than two decades, been characterised by estrangement borne from the illegal imposition of sanctions on Zimbabwe by the United Kingdom and her Western allies.
However, the dawn of the Second Republic in 2017, saw a major shift as Harare declared its intention to work with the rest of the world, premised on the “Friends to all and enemy to none” philosophy.
The philosophy, finding expression in the country’s engagement and re-engagement policy, has seen frosty relations with some Western nations thawing, a development that has seen President Mnangagwa being invited to the United Kingdom.
Yesterday, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, David Musabayana, said Zimbabwe, in its quest to become an upper middle income society by 2030, will reach out to everyone.
“This is a very important development as Zimbabwe continues on its engagement and re-engagement agenda. We are very clear that Zimbabwe is a friend of all and enemy of none,” he said.
Diplomat and Zanu-PF spokesperson Chris Mutsvangwa said the invite extended to President Mnangagwa was significant as it endorses the engagement and re-engagement strategy.
“There is a lot of history with Britain, checkered in many instances. This invitation marks a new chapter. It is an endorsement of the engagement and re-engagement policy. Britain is willing to see relations improving.
“They are responding to changing political circumstances. We want our relations to improve. It is important that London and Harare provide an environment where relations can flourish in all endeavours,.
King Charles III was in Zimbabwe as the Prince of Wales in 1980 when the country’s flag was hoisted, ending years of British colonial rule. The coronation, which is bringing the world’s who-is-who, will be held at Westminster Abbey tomorrow.
King Charles will be crowned along with Camilla, the Queen Consort. He will be the 40th reigning monarch crowned there since 1066.