Former UK PM Tony Blair has applauded President Mnangagwa for his leadership and commitment in fighting hunger on the continent.
Blair who was UK PM from 1997 to 2007 and took a tougher stance against Zimbabwe after the country embarked on the land reform programme, made a rare recognition of the President, that sets the tone for improving UK – Zimbabwe relations.
“The President of Zimbabwe made a very important point a moment ago. He does so much work for agriculture or for the continent of Africa.
“Thanks a lot for leadership, it means a lot to everyone,” Blair told delegates at a high level plenary session of an agricultural summit.
President Mnangagwa has noted that barriers to inter African trade were hampering the growth of agricultural trade in Africa.
The video clip with Blair praising the President has since gone viral.
Commentators Blair’s remarks, were showing changing attitudes of the British politicians towards Zimbabwe.
For years, British officials have had strained relations with the Zimbabwe leadership.
Ever since he took power, President Mnangagwa has strongly promoted initiatives that focus on developing agriculture, assisting small-scale food producers and improving food security and nutrition in the country.
He has also sought improve the provision of irrigation for crop production, water, sanitation and hygiene to poor communities and build their resilience to withstand shocks, such as those stemming from droughts and floods.
Speaking at the same plenary seasion, President Mnangagwa said the main challenge for Africa now was to transform the vision of a food-secure Africa into reality by tackling the multiple causes of hunger.
“Africa needs to work extra hard to ensure food self sufficiency,” he said.
He said investing in agriculture, reducing the gender disparity gaps, closer collaboration by African countries and adopting climate smart agriculture was key in ending hunger on the continent.
Soon after Blair made his remarks, he shook hands with President Mnangagwa, something all British leaders at various international foras avoided after the former colonial power and its western allies imposed crippling sanctions on Zimbabwe.
The picture of this historic handshake which has since gone viral, is seen as the most momentous in the history of Zimbabwe and the UK.