By Robert Tapfumaneyi
THE United Kingdom remains committed to assisting the crisis-hit administration of President Emmerson Mnangagwa, but only if Zimbabwe fulfils its end of the bargain in terms of reforms.
British ambassador to Zimbabwe, Melanie Robison said this on Thursday as Mnangagwa marked two years in office following his narrow and controversial win in the 2018 presidential election.
Nelson Chamisa, the MDC Alliance who came second in that election continues to challenge the result insisting he was legitimate winner adding the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) rigged the vote in favour of Mnangagwa.
Ambassador Robison said on his inauguration as Zimbabwe’s president two years ago, Mnangagwa promised to implement a number of reforms.
However, the top diplomat accused Mnangagwa of paying lip service to the commitments.
“Two years ago, President Mnangagwa made important commitments to reform. We’ve regularly called for these promises to be delivered on. But human rights violations and systematic corruption continue. We again urge respect for the constitution and action reform,” Robison said.
“Stopping human rights violations, tackling corruption without fear or favour and reaching out across divides remain the best way to unlock Zimbabwe’s potential and help secure a better future for all. The UK stands ready to support.”
However, Information secretary Nick Mangwana said as Mnangagwa’s administration turned two years, much had been achieved, and Zimbabwe was destined for greatness.
“Today, 26 August is the 2nd anniversary of President Mnangagwa’s substantive first term since his inauguration in 2018. So much has been achieved and there is so much work in progress in this short period. Going by the last two years, Zimbabwe is destined for great things. We’ve re-introduced the Zimbabwe dollar, and this has boosted exports and created new jobs,” Mangwana said.
He said mealie-meal, a staple food in Zimbabwe, was being sold for $75 instead of the market price of $400, and bus fares for the government-supported ZUPCO urban bus service are 20% of what private transporters charge.
“We have given citizens in urban areas uninterrupted electricity supplies and connected business centres and homes in rural areas to the national power grid. We’ve rehabilitated urban and rural roads. We’ve educated vulnerable children under the Basic Education Assistance Module.
“We’ve brought down the public wage bill from 92% of total revenue to below 50%. Our government has begun redressing the Gukurahundi issue,” Mangwana said.
However, former Information Minister, Jonathan Moyo said two years after Mnangagwa came into office, Zimbabwe was now a de-facto military state.
“1st year used ZDF (Zimbabwe Defence Forces) to consolidate presidential vote stolen from Nelson Chamisa (MDC Alliance 2018 presidential candidate).
“2nd year, used Covid-19 to impose a de facto state of emergency, steal MDC Alliance MPs, target citizens for abductions, torture and jail without bail. Zimbabwe now a de facto military state.”
In 2017, when Mnangagwa replaced the now late President Robert Mugabe, the then British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said his government was ready to support Zimbabwe as long as the government kept its promise on implementing economic, political and electoral reforms.
“For as long as the president (Mnangagwa) acts on his words, then Britain is willing to work alongside him and offer all the support we can,” Johnson said then.
He is now UK Prime Minister.
“Events in Zimbabwe offer a moment of hope for the country and its people. This is a time to look to the future and to make clear that Britain shares the common vision of a prosperous, peaceful and democratic Zimbabwe.
“I am encouraged by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s words so far. During his inauguration speech, he promised to reform the economy and give investors the security of title they need if Zimbabwe is to fulfil its potential and create the jobs that are sorely needed.”