HARARE: Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Frederick Shava will represent President Emmerson Mnangagwa at the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II in London next week, a senior government official said on Thursday.
An invitation to the funeral of the longest serving British monarch, who died last week, was extended to President Mnangagwa, but he will not be able to attend due to other commitments.
Deputy Chief Secretary in the Office of the President and Cabinet George Charamba, told New Ziana that; “The Foreign Minister (Shava) is attending for the President, who is scheduled to leave for the United Nations General Assembly on the day.”
Earlier, the British embassy in Zimbabwe had dismissed as fake a letter purportedly written by the British government denying President Mnangagwa an invitation to the funeral.
FACT CHECK | Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa invited to Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral
President Emmerson Mnangagwa was invited to attend the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II at Westminster Abbey, a royal church in the centre of London.
The United Kingdom (UK) office in Zimbabwe revealed this, putting paid to claims in a fake letter that surfaced on social media that King Charles had snubbed Mnangagwa, who turned 80 on Thursday.
“President Mnangagwa has been invited to attend the funeral of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II at Westminster Abbey on Monday,” the embassy said.
Some journalists in Zimbabwe fell hook, line and sinker for the claims, so much so that they castigated the UK.
The fake letter was addressed to the country’s foreign affairs minister, Frederick Shava.
It cited issues in Zimbabwe, such as a deteriorating human rights record and futile push to rejoin the Commonwealth, and that Mnangagwa was under targeted sanctions.
Compared to other letters from Buckingham Palace, the spacing between the letterhead, date and salutation in the fake letter was narrow.
When the letter went viral, government information secretary Nick Mangwana responded to some journalists’ tweets and said: “Our President would never solicit to attend a funeral regardless of how high profile the deceased person is.”
The Zimbabwean government later confirmed that Shava, will represent Mnangwana at the funeral. This is because Mnangagwa will be leaving for UN General Assembly on the day of the Queen’s burial.
Mnangagwa has been traveling since last week.
He attended the 12th African Green Forum in Rwanda last Thursday and attended Kenyan President William Ruto’s inauguration on Tuesday.
He is currently in Angola to attend the inauguration of re-elected President João Lourenco.