SECURITY staff at the residence of Britain's ambassador to Zimbabwe did a double take on Thursday after Zanu PF hell-raiser Jonathan Moyo turned up for commemorations of Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee and birthday celebrations.
The Tsholotsho North MP received a surprise invitation to the event from Britain’s new ambassador to Zimbabwe, Deborah Bronnert.
He was the only senior Zanu PF official on a guest list dominated by NGO activists and officials from the MDC-T including Home Affairs Minister Theresa Makone, her husband and Chief Secretary to the Prime Minister, Ian, as well as deputy minister Jessie Majome among others.
Moyo – a rabid critic of Britain’s alleged meddling in Zimbabwe’s domestic affairs – arrived at the ambassador's residency on York Road in Greendale in his imposing white Toyota Land Cruiser V8.
Security guards could not help a closer scrutiny of Moyo’s invitation, while guests inside appeared startled by the appearance of a man once seen as President Robert Mugabe’s right hand man at the Empire’s seat of power in Zimbabwe.
Moyo KISSED ambassador Bronnert on both cheeks as the two met, according to witnesses.
The former information minister mingled with hundreds of people among them diplomats, business leaders, journalists and NGO activists.
One official from Britain’s Department for International Development (DFID) rubbed his eyes in disbelief before asking the Zanu PF politburo member: "Prof Moyo, is this really you? And is this a sign of good things to come?"
Moyo's reply was inaudible to our correspondent.
Moyo told reporters after the event: “I don't think there's any big deal here. I got an invitation from the British Ambassador in good faith and I was happy to accept it in similar faith in accordance with our Zimbabwean culture of inclusivity and good neighbourliness, even where there are no geographic boundaries.
“The occasion was quite convivial and was an excellent opportunity to make contact and exchange views in happy circumstances against the background of our well known differences some of which are needless. Otherwise there was nothing to write home about.
“Any attempt to read more to it is bound to end in futility because one swallow does not make a summer.”
After the Conservatives returned to power in a coalition with the Liberal Democrats last year, Moyo led calls for re-engagement with the former colonial power after more than a decade of strained relations with the Labour government.
Moyo said in June last year: "We can all see that David Cameron is not as loquacious as Gordon Brown or Tony Blair, he has kept his views on Zimbabwe to himself.
"They are behaving as we have historically known of the Conservatives. The approach of the Conservatives under Margaret Thatcher was very different to the approach of Labour."
Cameron's "circumspect and careful" attitude, which had reduced the levels of "noise and tension" between the two sides, meant President Robert Mugabe would welcome "constructive" dialogue with him.
"The British problem is that they behave like a drunkard who climbed a tree overnight then woke up naked and could not get down," he said.
"We are prepared to give them a ladder, and a blanket, but it's up to them whether they climb down at night or during the day."