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End of crisis will be good chance for reconciliation

By Sibusiso Moyo | China Daily Global | Updated: 2020-04-10 09:27
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A city health worker prepares to disinfect a bus during a 21 day nationwide lockdown to limit the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Harare, Zimbabwe, April 1, 2020. [Photo/Agencies]

In Zimbabwe, where the COVID-19 lockdown began on March 30, the situation is no different from that of many other nations across the globe: We stay home to save lives.

Yet closing the borders for all but essential supplies and trade is the very opposite of what we wanted. This crisis has come at a time when we have been striving to open ourselves to the international community for the first time in nearly two decades.

Humanity, of course, will win the war against the coronavirus. Nations and people will recover. A vaccine for COVID-19 will surely be found.

After this is done, we must take care not to fall over each other in recrimination. Instead, it must be a time for reconciliation and reflection on the fact that we defeated the virus together.

We, in Zimbabwe, know the cost of isolationism. Separateness made us poorer, both socially and economically. That is why Zimbabwe will-when this crisis is over-resume its path of reintegration with the world.

Reconciliation will be the path for other nations, too. In the early stages of the coronavirus in Zimbabwe, the United States was among the first to offer assistance, with a promise of further support in the coming weeks.

We thank the US for its support. We hope that it is, perhaps, what proffers the chance to thaw our long-frozen relations.

We also thank China, our longtime friend, for its substantial support in the battle against COVID-19. We must acknowledge, with deep appreciation, the donation to Zimbabwe as well as to all other African countries, of equipment and medical supplies by Chinese businessman Jack Ma.

That both these nations should reach out to Zimbabwe at a time when they are, themselves, victims of the same pandemic, will not be forgotten. Nor should the lesson be lost on any of us that we are all in this together. We are simply better together than we are apart.

Yet the return of the global economy to strength will surely not occur so rapidly if, after the virus is defeated, nations retreat from cooperation and trading with one another.

Since 2012, the rate of growth of global trade has been slowing substantially. The possibility of further reduction will surely imperil the chances of recovery of many African nations, Zimbabwe included.

For Africa, rebuilding international trade based on global supply chains could not be more important.

In January, Zimbabwe launched its first domestic factory producing smartphones and tablets-an enterprise of Zimbabwe Technology Co in partnership with China's Inspur. There is a similar smartphone producer now in Rwanda, and in Uganda, they are making their own locally designed and built small family car.

These developments prove that no one has a permanent monopoly on manufacturing jobs. A constant truth is that the global economy is never settled, and nor can it forever remain the same.

We cannot be certain about what these coming months might hold. But perhaps we can say with confidence that we at least know now that had there been more trust between nations at the start of this outbreak, the virus may not have spread so far, or so fast. That is why we must take care to redouble efforts to rebuild relations and renew our trust in one another after this crisis is over.

When this battle is won, the life after will be one of choice. We can choose simply to return to the geopolitics of the past as if nothing has occurred. Or we can choose differently and choose anew: Sanctions and other barriers to trade can come down.

We are all brothers and sisters in this world we share, and we can-and should-rebuild together after this crisis, shorn of previous misconceptions of each other and the tired animosities of the past.

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