By Staff Reporter
A UK legislator has said vice president Constantino Chiwenga must go after post-election violence blamed on the military left seven people dead and several others injured last week.
The fatalities occurred after soldiers moved into central Harare to clear opposition activists protesting the poll results.
The opposition was particularly angered the presidential ballot in which incumbent Emmerson Mnangagwa of the ruling Zanu PF party barely avoided a run-off, claiming 50.8 percent of the vote against 44.3 per cent for main challenger Nelson Chamisa.
Following the killings, attention has focused on vice president Constantino Chiwenga, the former Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) chief who led the military coup which ousted long-time ruler Robert Mugabe last November.
Opposition critics say Chiwenga is the real power in Harare with Mnangagwa seen as the civilian face of what is effectively a military junta.
Commenting on Twitter Monday, Labour MP Kate Hoey, who also chairs the UK’s All-Party Parliamentary Group on Zimbabwe said Chiwenga go, failing which there should be no change the West’s policy on Harare.
The European Union and the United States slapped sanctions against Zimbabwe when Mugabe was in power, accusing the then Zanu PF leader of gross human rights abuses and electoral fraud.
The EU has since eased its measures while the US sanctions remain in place.
There should be no change to @P_VanDamme_EU or @UKinZimbabwe or American government policies to Zimbabwe government until at the very minimum Chiwenga is removed from his Vice Presidency and his control of the military @mdczimbabwe @advocatemahere
— Kate Hoey (@KateHoeyMP) August 6, 2018
Hoey’s remarks come after the UK said it was deeply concerned about the post-election violence in Zimbabwe and the disproportionate response of the authorities.
“We have urged all parties to work together to ensure calm,” Harriett Baldwin, minister of state for Africa, said in a statement.
“It is vital that any appeals against the results or the process are handled swiftly and impartially.”
Ahead of the elections, Mnangagwa had impressed on the importance of re-engaging with the West after years of isolation as Zimbabwe looks to rebuild its shattered economy.
The Zanu PF leader had repeatedly insisted that the crunch elections needed to be free, fair and peaceful as he looked to secure international endorsement of his rise to power after last November’s military coup.