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UK to ED: 2018 polls the most scrutinised in Zim’s history; fair results or else

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Staff Reporter

President Emmerson Mnangagwa has been told by British ambassador to Zimbabwe Catriona Laing that investment promises may remain just that if his government fails to deliver a credible election next month.

Laing said the changes that have happened since the military takeover which removed former president Robert Mugabe, although impressive, were inadequate to attract the anticipated socio-economic development.

“Talking of change… of course, the last 12 months in Zimbabwe have not been entirely without incident! We do indeed live in interesting times,” said Laing in an address delegates at the Queen’s Birthday Party celebrations.

“But I think they are hopeful times. You can feel it. Zimbabwe has a revitalised politics with new energy, new leaders and new ideas on all sides. There is an opening of political space, and the kind of vibrant public debate that we have not had for many years.”

Laing said Mnangagwa’s government must ensure that the watershed elections scheduled for July 30 were free and fair to fully unlock investors’ and international community support.

“There is no room for complacency however. Zimbabwe’s future rests on the legitimate victory of a government chosen by the people of Zimbabwe in a free and fair election. So much is riding on this now,” she said.

“It will be the key to unlocking the reengagement of international institutions, to debt restructuring, to infrastructure investment, to re-joining the Commonwealth and to all the support we can give.

“This election will be observed and scrutinised more intensely than any other in Zimbabwe’s history. I am delighted that European Union, US and Commonwealth observers will be joining SADC and AU and domestic observers to help make these elections as good as they can be,” Laing added.

According to government figures, at least $10 billion worth of investment potential has been secured since the military coup of November last year.

The ruling party has also been working hard towards normalizing relations with the west. Mnangagwa has been reiterating that Zimbabwe is open for business and made various policy reforms aimed at luring investment.

Nothing tangible is yet to come out of the efforts.

“I think it is fair to say the investors were encouraged by what they saw, but they still want assurances around policy, political risk and the rule of law. As I look back over my time here, I am delighted to see the strengthening of UK/Zimbabwe relations.”

The celebrations mark the Queen’s 92 years of life. She has served 65 years as The Queen.