UK PM Snubs Mnangagwa In SADC Travel Ban Consultations

Spread This News

By Staff Reporter

ZIMBABWE’S pariah status continues following reports British Prime Minister Boris Johnson consulted Southern African presidents, except President Emmerson Mnangagwa, before the latest travel restrictions were imposed.

The current travel ban on visitors from Zimbabwe, South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho, Malawi, Eswatini, and Mozambique in entering the UK, was announced after a new highly transmissible Covid-19 variant, Omicron, was discovered last month.

It emerged Wednesday the UK snubbed consulting Mnangagwa’s administration after that country’s shadow Minister of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Ruth Jones, asked the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Affairs, whether she had discussions with her counterparts in Southern Africa before the recent restrictions on travel were introduced.

In response to Jones’ inquiry, Vicky Ford, who is Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) said the UK government acted quickly to impose travel restrictions when the Omicron variant was detected, and where possible the government engaged with countries prior to the announcement.

“Since the decision to impose travel restrictions the Prime Minister (Johnson) has spoken to South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and the Minister for Africa has spoken to counterparts in South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho and Zambia,” Ford said in an indication that Zimbabwe was deliberately left out in these consultations.

“UK scientists are working closely with colleagues around the world to tackle Covid-19. In the case of the Omicron variant, we are particularly grateful to South Africa for early sharing of information to support global health security, which has enabled the world to act quickly.”

The UK has also issued travel advisories to its citizens warning they should carefully consider the risks of Covid-19 before travelling to Zimbabwe and other SADC countries.

Last month, in the House of Lords, UK MPs expressed concern over the declining political situation in Zimbabwe, and the continued incarceration of MDC Alliance youth activist, Makomborero Haruzivishe at the Harare Remand Prison.

The UK legislators said the human rights violations were seriously affecting Zimbabwe’s international re-engagement process, including rejoining the Commonwealth, a grouping of mostly former British colonies.

This is despite Mnangagwa revelling in glory last October after he rubbed shoulders with the world’s top leaders, including Johnson, taking pictures and sharing light moments on the global stage at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland.

Mnangagwa, the first Zimbabwean leader invited to the UK in over 20 years after the latter placed travel restrictions on Zanu PF leaders at the height of a major bilateral dispute in 2002.