UK upgrades ties with Zim

HARARE - President Robert Mugabe has accepted confidence-building measures offered by the United Kingdom (UK) to improve diplomatic relations, including increasing the number of students sent on the Chevening Scholarship.

British ambassador to Zimbabwe Catriona Laing told delegates at a send-off ceremony of recipients of the Chevening Scholarships yesterday: “When I presented my credentials to president Mugabe on my arrival here in October last year, we spoke widely about a range of issues including some confidence-building measures the UK was planning to undertake during my tenure.

“During this conversation, I mentioned to the president that the UK government had intentions to increase the number of Chevening Scholarship awards to Zimbabwe.

“He welcomed this development and encouraged the scholarship to continue.”

The UK’s move to expand the scholarship programme is one of the most significant steps yet in a quickening, but still tentative, re-engagement with the country.

The upgrading of diplomatic relations followed Zimbabwe’s softening of its stance on indigenisation and its promise to create investor-friendly policies as well as adopting a new Constitution in the latest sign of change in a country that has spent 35 years under authoritarian rule.

Relations soured over Mugabe’s drive to expropriate white-owned farms over a decade ago and charges that his ruling Zanu PF party stole elections and committed unspeakable atrocities against defenceless citizens.

Britain imposed sanctions on top Zanu PF officials and Mugabe, one of Africa’s oldest leaders who has held power since independence in 1980.

The 91-year-old has remained unbending to Western criticism and threats and accuses London of treating his country as its colony in a bid to maintain influence in the mineral-rich country.

Liang said the scholarships, which were increased from four to 20, were a demonstration of UK’s commitment to Zimbabwe’s human resource and its future.

“I’m sure you will agree with me that both Zimbabwe and the UK hold the benefits of great education in the highest esteem,” she said.

“Respect for, and dedication to education is an important aspect in the strengthening of bilateral relations.”

Chevening Scholarships are the UK government’s global scholarship programme, funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and partner organisations.

The twenty who were awarded scholarships to attend various UK universities are Aldrin Chari, Angela Jimu, Blessing Gorejena, Zenzo Sibanda, Mandy Gaihai, Claudios Muserere, Pedzisai Nemadziba, Tariro Muzorori, Innocent Muleya, Mfundo Mlilo, Samson Zimuto, Philip Dhauti, Simbabrashe Magege, Grant Murewanhema, Gilfern Moyo, Martin Chakawa, Sibusisiwe Ndlovu, Norman Matara, Tafadzwa Machirori and Corra Magiya.

The scholars are expected to return to Zimbabwe upon completion of their studies to make meaningful contribution to developing the country and become part of the Chevening alumni.


Comments (1)

British ambassador to Zimbabwe the disheveled Catriona Laing is a treacherous witch. Never do you hear her chastise the Zanu mafia for their corruption, incompetence, multiple crimes and plundering. She prefers to turn a blind eye to the real causes of Zimbabwe's decay. She dishes out UK aid funds to the cronies of the Despotic Regime. One wonders if her boss David Cameron really knows what kind of a clown is representing British interests, values and culture in Zimbabwe.

Patrick Mafodya - 28 August 2015

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