UK re-engagement drive in disarray
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa’s re-engagement of the United Kingdom ahead of the next elections has been thrown into disarray after British parliamentarians asked the secretary of state to revoke an invitation to the Zimbabwean leader to the coronation of King Charles III in May.
On Monday, Mnangagwa took to his Twitter handle to say he was “most excited” to have been invited to the 6 May coronation where he is expected to salvage his re-engagement drive with the UK which slapped Zimbabwe with sanctions over gross human rights abuses.
On Sunday, his re-engagement drive also appeared on course after he was visited by the British ambassador to Zimbabwe, Melanie Robinson.
Writing on Twitter, Mnangagwa said he had discussed trade, investment, and the special relationship between Zimbabwe and the UK. However, it has since emerged that British parliamentarians want Mnangagwa barred from attending the coronation.
Political analyst Vivid Gwede told The NewsHawks that the message behind the letter by the British MPs to bar Mnangagwa from the coronation is that the UK is saying reforms must come first before any re-engagement efforts can meaningfully start.
“The calls by the British MPs are consistent with what they have been advocating for. Which is re-engagement based on reforms by the Zimbabwean government.
“Some of the reforms asked for are consistent with what our own constitution requires such as respect for human rights, rule of law and credible, free and fair elections,” he said.
In a letter signed by Nav Mishra, chairperson of the All-Party Parliamentary Group Zimbabwe (APPG Zimbabwe), and his deputy, Lord Jonathan Oates, and several other House of Commons lawmakers, secretary James Cleverly was asked to withdraw the invitation “in light of the grave political and human rights situation in Zimbabwe.”
APPG Zimbabwe said that there is widespread violence and human rights abuses, with opposition members being “harassed, beaten, imprisoned and murdered, corruption is rife, extending to the highest levels of government.”
The APPG said that the ruling party has overrun the country’s economy, completely decimated the local currency, dismembered the judiciary, taken over the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and impoverished Zimbabweans.
APPG said the coronation invitation will “inevitably be used by President Mnangagwa as tacit acceptance by the UK of publicly evidenced political violence and repression in the run up to the forthcoming election and will be deeply demoralising to ordinary Zimbabweans in their struggle for democracy.
“We therefore urge the government to withdraw President Mnangagwa’s invitation until Job Sikhala MP and other political prisoners are granted their constitutional right to bail and concrete actions are taken to address human rights abuses and guarantee free and fair elections.”
Zengeza West Citizens’ Coalition for Change lawmaker Sikhala, who is facing charges of inciting violence, has spent nearly one year at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison.
Britain, the United States and other nations imposed targeted sanctions on some Zanu PF officials over human rights abuses and election rigging.