Zimbawe’s new president Emmerson Mnangagwa , has said he is eagerly awaiting a meeting with British Prime Minister Theresa May in Davos as Britain’s only other female leader, Margaret Thatcher, was “good to us.”
Speaking at the World Economic Forum, Mr Mnangagwa, who replaced Robert Mugabe following a de facto military coup in November, said: “I would like to meet with prime minister Theresa May. I believe she will be good to us.
“Margaret Thatcher was good to us. All the male prime ministers have not been good to us,” he added.
Though the Zimbabwean leader made the comment in jest, it marked a clear intention to improve relations between London and Harare, which suffered severely under Mr Mugabe’s rule.
The despotic ruler clashed with nearly every male British prime minister he met during his rule over Zimbabwe, and was particularly disdainful of Tony Blair, once quipping: “Blair, Blair, who is he?”
But Mr Mugabe enjoyed a warmer relationship with Mrs Thatcher, and is said to have rebuked his cabinet colleagues for celebrating her fall from power in 1990.
“Who organised our independence? Let me tell you – if it hadn’t been for Mrs Thatcher none of you would be here today. I’m sorry she’s gone,” he reportedly said.
It comes after Mr Mnangagwa said he viewed Britain’s departure from the EU as an opportunity, as “what they’ve lost with Brexit they can come and recover from Zimbabwe.”
And in the hopes of being brought back into the fold of free democracy, he has also indicated that Zimbabwe will attempt to rejoin the Commonwealth.
“When we have engagement, they [Britain] want to raise the issue about us joining the Commonwealth. I said I’ll be happy to deal with that . . . I personally have nothing against the Commonwealth club,” he said in a recent interview with the Financial Times.
The suggestion marks a departure from the policies of Mr Mugabe, who dramatically quit the Commonwealth in 2003 after being ordered to restore democracy and the rule of law by other members.
Zimbabwe’s new premier is on a charm offensive in Davos aimed at boosting foreign investment in the country, which became an economic disaster zone under Mr Mugabe’s rule.
“If President Trump came here today, I will be able to talk to him and make requests for him, and say Zimbabwe is open for business… Americans love to play golf, so come and build golf courses [in Zimbabwe],” he told the BBC on Thursday.
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