Since 2003, Zimbabwe has looked to China, and also Russia, for friendship and assistance after falling out with Western countries that imposed sanctions following allegations of human rights abuses and vote-rigging perpetrated by then-President Robert Mugabe, who lost power in 2017 and died in 2019.
China is also massively involved in building and financing big-budget infrastructure projects in Zimbabwe that include revamping major airports. A Chinese company built the National Defense College in Harare, which opened in 2014 and was financed with an interest-free $98 million loan from China. Further Chinese involvement spans almost every sector of the Zimbabwean economy — from energy to mining and agriculture
However, unlike his predecessor Mugabe, Mnangagwa has sought to thaw icy relations with the West through an engagement drive that includes applying to rejoin the Commonwealth, a club of mainly former British colonies that Mugabe left in 2003.
Calling Zimbabwe a “friend to all and an enemy to none,” Mnangagwa called for “unconditional” and “urgent” lifting of Western-imposed sanctions and welcomed an invitation to attend the U.S.-Africa Summit next month. The U.S previously did not invite Zimbabwe to the summit during Mugabe’s time.