By Robert Tapfumaneyi
THE Zimbabwe government has played down its apparent snub by British authorities who have overlooked Harare among those invited to next week’s UK-Africa Summit set for London.
The summit will bring together businesses, governments and international institutions across Africa to interact, grow and explore new business opportunities.
But Zimbabwe is one of the few African countries which was not invited for reasons not known but probably linked to the poor human rights situation and other democratic flaws the Emmerson Mnangagwa led administration have long been accused of.
However, officials in the Foreign Affairs Ministry said Thursday the summit could not be used to measure relations between the two countries and conclude that their relations were frosty.
“There have been several reports from online publications that have cast aspersions on Zimbabwe-UK relations because Zimbabwe has not been invited to attend the UK-Africa Investment Summit that will take place in London on 20 January 2020,” said Foreign Affairs spokesperson Shepard Gwenzi.
“The UK is a sovereign country which can determine who can attend any of its business events.
“The Ministry wishes to place on record that since the advent of the Second Republic, Zimbabwe-UK relations remain cordial and high-level exchange visits characterise this bilateral relationship.
“One event, therefore, cannot justifiably be a barometer of relations between Harare and London.”
UK-based economics professor, Steve Hanke wrote on social media that the Boris Johnson British government snubbed Mnangagwa’s administration because ‘Zimbabwe is not open for businesses’.
“On January 20, the UK will host the UK-Africa Investment Summit in London. Zimbabwe was not invited. Is Zimbabwe open for business? No! Without strong property rights and public safety, foreign investment is impossible to come by,” Hanke posted on his twitter handle.
Posting on its website, the UK government said the summit will showcase and promote the breadth and quality of investment opportunities across Africa.
“The summit will strengthen the UK’s partnership with African nations to build a secure and prosperous future for all our citizens. It will mobilise new and substantial investment to create jobs and boost mutual prosperity.”
Some African leaders that will attend the summit are South Africa’s Cyril Ramaphosa, President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi from Egypt, Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria and Kenya’s Uhuru Kenyatta.