Nduduzo Tshuma, Political Editor
RWANDA President, Paul Kagame, has scorned the duplicity by the Western countries who are demanding a quick transformation of Zimbabwe yet the sanctions they imposed on the nation are still in effect and impeding turnaround efforts.
Responding to a question by Zimbabwean journalist, Ruvheneko Parirenyatwa, on how Zimbabwe can shake off its old perception during his interface with journalists from across Africa ahead of Rwanda’s 25th Liberation Day celebrations, President Kagame said while changes have happened in Zimbabwe since the coming of the Second Republic led by President Mnangagwa, some changes would not happen overnight.
Despite efforts of re-engagement by President Mnangagwa’s Government and calls to lift sanctions against the nation, the Western countries have maintained the embargo while at the same time demanding changes.
“Give them (Zimbabwe) time or even allow them the tools. If you are saying, we want you to change and at the same time they are under sanctions, when you are under sanctions you are being denied the tools to apply to actually change the situation,” he said. “So you can’t be the same person who has applied the sanctions and then you say I want you to change in a very short time when part of the change requires what you actually sanctioned, there is no sense in that.”
President Kagame said his country stands ready to work with Zimbabwe and exchange ideas but the greater job lies with Zimbabweans.
He said unlike Rwanda, Zimbabwe’s change (the coming in of the Second Republic) was recent hence the country needs to be given time.
“They (Zimbabwe) need time, what they need with time is a different issue. That falls back to the responsibility of the Government. That’s what we tell people, it’s not a switch on or switch off situation. You can’t just flip the switch from one point to another then things will change, we don’t have that kind of thing,” said President Kagame.
The Rwandan President said Zimbabweans need to work hard in changing the perception of Zimbabwe in the international community noting that there are some countries that would still remain unconvinced for their own selfish political ends.
Drawing parallels with his country, President Kagame said there are some countries that still do not want to believe that Rwanda has transformed.
“Perception will be there, you can’t avoid it. That is something we share with many people. It is this perception which portrays you in a way that you may not be. By the way we still suffer from those ourselves. There are still many who wonder or don’t even fully believe or don’t know that the country has changed. The moment you mention Rwanda there are those who still think it is 1994 or the moment after that,” said President Kagame.
“Explaining a point of Zimbabwe while using my example, we know that it is there, don’t be discouraged by it, be educated by it. The first point you get educated about is, you need to work hard to change the perception.”
Most African leaders have called on the West to lift sanctions against Zimbabwe as the country is making a turn for the good.
South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa, has on various platforms called for the lifting of sanctions against Zimbabwe as they stand in the way of the country’s development.
President Mnangagwa has, since becoming the Head of State, initiated a raft of reforms including the re-engagement drive to mend relations with countries with whom relations had soured in the past while strengthening the existing ones.