The British government must reaffirm that there will be “no money, no bailout” for Harare until President Robert Mugabe “disappears from power and influence forever”, the chairperson of the UK’s All-Party Parliamentary Group on Zimbabwe, has said.
Kate Hoey, who is also MP for Vauxhall, said Mugabe should not be helped to further entrench his 36-year reign which has “set new standards in vanity, mismanagement, corruption, outright theft, oppression, and organised violence against opponents”.
“Over three million Zimbabweans have fled,” the MP wrote in an article this week (read the full article in our opinion section here).
“The rich country’s economic ruin was symbolised by the issue of banknotes with a paper value of 100 trillion Zimbabwe dollars (14 zeroes). They are worthless but make entertaining birthday presents for children.”
Mugabe, now 92, blames the UK for corralling western countries into imposing sanctions against Harare which he says have devastated Zimbabwe’s economy over the past decade.
The veteran leader has struggled to right the tanking economy since his re-election in 2013 and now faces increasing pressure as fed-up Zimbabweans stage protests while sections of his own Zanu PF party also appear to be pressing for his ouster.
However, and apparently ignoring the brutality the Harare government has used to crush citizen protests, British authorities are thought to be helping Mugabe secure a much-needed $1.8bln rescue package.
Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa recently travelled to London for meetings with UK officials as well as a bank said to be arranging the facility.
A British newspaper has also revealed that, before Chinamasa’s visit, former UK business minister Peter Mendelson travelled to Harare for meetings with Mugabe’s treasury chief. Lord Mandelson chairs a UK bank helping arrange the rescue package.
However, Hoey said the British foreign secretary, who is famous for his elaborate and colourful manner of expression, must deploy his best aphorisms against the meddlesome Mandelson.
“This episode calls for an urgent response from our new Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson,” said Hoey.
“On Zimbabwe he must reaffirm Britain’s position in the most robust and colourful language he can command: no money, no bailout until Mugabe disappears from power and influence for ever.”
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A day in the shoes of a delegate
Hoey also condemned the UK’s Harare embassy for helping arrange Mandelson’s meetings with government officials and demanded to know who paid for the trip.
“I wonder also why the FCO thought there was any value to Britain in Peter Mandelson’s mission,” she wrote.
“He has no previous relationship with Zimbabwe that I can discover. Certainly he has never attended one meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Zimbabwe which I chair and which has many members from the House of Lords.
“Representatives of (Zimbabwe’s) surviving business community and civic leaders do not need to be persuaded of the case for reform – they are desperate for it. There is no point in preaching to Chinamasa, who is a creature of Mugabe and has no future in a post-Mugabe settlement.
“Why does the FCO see Peter Mandelson as a persuasive advocate in any country? He has not won an election for himself since 2001 nor taken part in a winning political campaign for any party or cause since 1997.”
Hoey has since demanded that Lord Mandelson appear before the UK parliament to explain his dealings with the Harare regime.