Zimbabweans Ducking under Naive British Cover

By Andrew Field
The other day a member of the British Aristocracy, Lord Renton, posed a quite remarkable question
in the Lords. He asked,

“Would you agree that the best way for us to help and assist the economic recovery of Zimbabwe would be to offer President Mugabe a safe, comfortable and well looked after home in Britain?”

It makes you wonder, sometimes, if those who have any serious influence actually know what is going on in Zimbabwe.

If you lay this naive inquiry alongside the allegations made in a recent speech by Roy Bennett, a leading opposition party member, previously jailed by the Mugabe regime, deprived of his farm, and now, apparently, back in exile, you may be staggered. Bennett chronicles the ethos of ZANU (PF) violence to achieve election dominance and securing Mugabe a ‘North Korean-styled personalised one-party state’. What Lord Renton is saying, in his very myopic view, is that it is alright to calm the waters of alleged human rights abuse through appeasement and asset facilitation.

There is, perhaps, a little clue to Lord Renton’s motives, in so far as it has recently been suggested that Britain’s new coalition government is now making overtures to Robert Mugabe, or vice versa. Unconfirmed reports that Mugabe aides have been praising David Cameron and the Coalition seems incredibly out of character, given Mugabe’s outrageous abhorrence of anything British. Zimbabwe Tourism Minister, Walter Mzembi, a Mugabe die-hard, is quoted as saying that Mr David Cameron had made a positive impression on the Zimbabwe ruling party. President Mugabe is now keen to meet with British Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Mark Canning.

Canning recently visited his home during which he addressed a meeting of ‘Diaspora Zimbabweans’ and answered their questions. He was taken to task by one Zimbabwean over the escalating pre-election violence and the deployment of army personnel into rural opposition strongholds. Dates for the election have not even been fixed, but the setting is thick with allegation. The Ambassador responded by promising to “send observers to all the affected areas before the elections take place”. One cannot help but believe that Britain’s Ambassador to Zimbabwe is either a touch naive, uninformed, or just turning a blind eye to the very ugly situation allegedly taking shape on the ground, accepting of course that he does have a duty of diplomacy.

Bennett’s essay of pre-election violence, if this is to be believed, and many do, outlines very clearly the ZANU (PF) modus operandi, as Bennett perceives it. He has spoken of his experiences with at least two elections which were afforded the protection of these mysterious foreign observers: who firstly arrive only on the cusp of the election; generally never get off the beaten ‘tourist’ track; and never really see the real position on the ground. The international community seem to have accepted the concept of ‘free and fair elections’ in Zimbabwe, overwhelmingly, in the face of a bloody, battered, beaten and weary Zimbabwean electorate. Mugabe’s friends in the Southern African Development Community ensured that without question.

By now, the British Government, its elected and hereditary representatives in both houses, and its officials abroad should know better than to trust their weak election monitoring methodologies in Africa. Zimbabwe may be heading for more elections and Zimbabweans will be wondering if Britain really intends to have a stake in ensuring free and fair play. They have a duty to do so. The naivety of some recent utterances would suggest not, or are we seeing the predictable need for Zimbabweans to again propitiate the inevitable strongman outcome? British hands are going to be washed in blood once more, if they are not careful.


6 thoughts on “Zimbabweans Ducking under Naive British Cover

  1. Sadly all too predictable given the British Government and ‘Establishment’s’ past record on Zimbabwe and on Rhodesia before that. I was at a previous meeting at Lancaster House well attended by many articulate and impressive Zimbabweans from the ‘diaspora’, and was appalled by the smug, shallow, (deliberately?)stupid, arrogant and ignorant atitude of the British Ambassador and other UK officials. This is on such a scale that I think that both naivety and cowardly duplicity have to be involved.

  2. I agree about the naivety of Britains senior politicians and members of her Foreign Service based on past performance and current revelations about the beheading of members of the opposition, based on returning the torso sans head to their closest relatives for burial. In a land steeped in superstition, one must assume that this would be a deterent, at least, to cast a vote in a “Free and Fair Ballot”….Perhaps Lord Renton might be satisfied with a small safe and comfortable box for Robert Gabriel Mugabe’s head…..

  3. The Conservative party and in all too familiar fashion are about to do another dirty deal with Mugabe!

    Admittedly Zimbabwe is a problem to Britain and one that the Brits would very much like off their hands. Cameron is well aware of the atrocities committed by the Mugabe regime and knows only too well that he was responsible for the theft of two elections, the imprisonment and torture of thousands, the unfair eviction of white commercial farmers and the virtual collapse of the whole country. Problem is that neither the AU nor SADC will sanction the prosecution of Mugabe or any of his lieutenants a fact that most people now acknowledge! In order to normalize relations with Africa, Cameron knows that he has little choice but to strike some kind of deal with Mugabe – he sees no other way around it. Cameron also knows that any threats or increased sanctions will only jeopardize British economic interests not only with Zimbabwe but in all likelyhood with the rest of Africa.

    If Cameron stikes a deal with Mugabe as the persistent rumours suggest, one wonders what sort of precedent this will set in the rest of Africa? Will people like Charles Taylor and other such war criminals such as the Hutu who are currently serving long term prison sentences for genocide, all be set free? All those who have suffered terrible misery at the hands of Mugabe will certainly wonder why Mugabe is being treated differently?

    Makes us all wonder!

  4. Power corrupts totally Andrew. There are always politicians ready to do what they believe is politically correct, turning away from suffering masses and TRUTH when lucrative contracts are in the offing. A country rich in minerals with excellent infrastructure and now DIAMONDS.

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