By Idah Mhetu
FOREIGN Affairs Minister Sibusiso Moyo has slammed Britain for alleged pettiness after the former colonial master’s parliament this week touched on the embarrassing gold smuggling debacle by Zimbabwe Miners Federation boss Henrietta Rushwaya on Monday.
In a statement Thursday, Moyo was adamant Britain should not find Zimbabwe’s re-engagement overtures as an open invitation for interference into the country’s internal affairs.
The British House of Lords spoke about the Monday arrest of Rushwaya for attempting to smuggle six kilograms of gold to Dubai.
British authorities also hinted on a possible imposition of more sanctions on the troubled country for continued rights abuses, corruption, among other acts of state misdemeanour.
Moyo felt Britain crossed the diplomatic line.
“We take note of the debate which took place in the British House of Lords on 27 October and, once again, express our surprise at the level of invasive interest in our internal affairs which persists in the hallowed halls of Westminster Palace,” said the former top soldier.
“The openness of the New Dispensation, the sincere willingness to engage and re-engage with all who wish to engage with us is not an open invitation for interference or intrusion into our internal affairs.”
Moyo reminded the British it is now 40 years since Zimbabwe gained its Independence adding the former colonial master still treated the country as its appendage.
“It is more than 40 years ago that the Union Flag was lowered and yet, it seems, our friends in London still regard Zimbabwe as part of their extended family requiring constant supervision, correction and even punishment when, in their own assessment, we stray from the path they and others have chosen for us,” he said.
“Naturally, we are disappointed at the overally negative tone and tenor of the debate and by the uninformed quality of much of the commentary or observation made by those who spoke.”
Moyo also said the British should not stoop so low so as to try and use Rushwaya’s case to tarnish President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s image.
“The deliberate attempt to besmirch His Excellency the President, by way of innuendo, with the corruption and smuggling case involving Henrietta Rushwaya, is a new low, even for the noble Lords,” he said.
“The Government representative in the House echoed London’s now well-known refrain simply dismissing our progress on reform as ‘inadequate’ and dredging-up the usual, invariably unsubstantiated allegations of human-rights abuses and a failure to act on corruption.
“We note, as deeply unfortunate, the implied threat of more sanctions from the UK and the assurance given to the Lords that such measures are currently under active consideration in London.
“One would have thought that, by now, a lesson would have been learned. Zimbabwe is a sovereign state. We chart our own course based on our own national interests. We co-operate with our regional partners and indeed with all partners on the basis of mutual respect and understanding.
“Genuine friends and partners do not prescribe or dictate, they guide, advise and assist.”