British envoy in row over Chamisa

HARARE - British ambassador to Zimbabwe Catriona Laing has come under spotlight after two legislators who visited the country before last week’s national harmonised elections accused of her of ridiculing opposition leader Nelson Chamisa and backing the Zanu PF government.

This comes as the MPs — Kate Hoey and Conor Burns — who both visited Zimbabwe on a fact finding mission at the end of May — have released a report in which they asked their government not to endorse a “flawed electoral processes” election.

Laing has been consistently accused of siding with President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government, claims she said were not true.

In a damning report released last week, Hoey and Burns urged Prime Minister Theresa May’s government not to accept “second best or flawed electoral processes”.

“Being prepared to accept second best or flawed processes is patronising and sends the signal that our care and concern for Zimbabwe are not genuine.

“We were disappointed at how every element of civic society and politicians outside Zanu PF had the belief that the UK Embassy — and in particular the Ambassador is biased in favour of the incumbent regime.

“Huge offence was taken that our Ambassador wore a Mnangagwa scarf outside 10 Downing Street earlier this year on her visit to the UK. This offence and fear of bias was compounded when the first person to re-tweet it from his official account was Mnangagwa himself.

“The Embassy organised a dinner for us to meet some Zimbabweans and we found that most were supporters of Zanu PF. Indeed prior to the dinner the Ambassador was openly ridiculing the leader of the MDC Alliance,” the two MPs said in their critical report.

Opposition and rights groups have repeatedly accused the UK of showing soft signs towards Mnangagwa and his government with most of their criticism directed at Laing.

On more than one occasion, Laing has had to scramble for her own defence.

The top British diplomat has taken to micro-blogging site, Twitter to dismiss the latest allegations from the two prominent UK politicians.

“This story is untrue. At the dinner I held for Kate Hoey on June 1, Zimbabwean guests were: an independent candidate, a pastor, and two business people. To my
knowledge only one supports Zanu PF and only since Nov. I also invited a human rights activist, but she couldn’t make it.

“I certainly did not ridicule Nelson Chamisa, who I recognise as a major political figure in Zimbabwe. I believe he and I have a good relationship and we meet regularly. We had a good meeting just before the election, discussing his plans if he won, and we spoke soon after,” Laing said.

On July 30, millions of Zimbabweans cast their vote in historic elections to choose both a new Parliament and president following the fall of former leader Robert Mugabe who resigned from office last November.

The elections were the first since 1980 to be held in the country without Mugabe’s participation, whose 37-year, iron-fisted rule was dramatically ended by a military operation late last year which triggered events that ended with his resignation.

The elections also marked the first time that the main opposition MDC was not represented by its founding leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who lost his brave battle with cancer of the colon on Valentine’s Day this year.

Zanu PF retained its two third parliamentary majority in Monday’s elections with Mnangagwa winning a tightly contested race by 50,8 percent.

But the peaceful campaigns and a camaraderie spirit that had characterised the run-up to the July 30 elections were sullied last Wednesday by deadly clashes between opposition supporters and security agents.

At least six people subsequently died when the army which had been called in to assist in managing the situation used live ammunition to break the ugly protests.

Chamisa has insisted that he won the hotly-disputed July 30 presidential poll — whose results he claimed had been fiddled with by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec).

Mnangagwa has since moved to calm the waters by reaching out to the youthful MDC Alliance leader to join hands with him to move the country forward.

“We cannot allow the violent actions of the few to detract from the democratic expression of the many.

“To Nelson Chamisa, I want to say you have a crucial role to play in Zimbabwe’s present and in its future. Let us both call for peace and unity in our land, call for both louder than ever.

“That is the role of leaders. That is our joint responsibility even though discharged and fulfilled differently,” he said. last Friday

Comments (11)

Kate Hoey & Conor Burns have exposed who they support and its not the generality of the Zimbabwean people, no. They join the sad lot of people who'd rather dismiss the voters in Zimbabwe and stand with a choice they are comfortable with. The two are a disservice to the UK Parliament and their loud views ought to be dismissed with healthy contempt.

ken girtz - 7 August 2018

The generality of Zimbabwean love Zanu PF. If the two MPS have a problem with that they should, well, just go hang.

Joseph Mutasa - 7 August 2018

Let the truth be said, the 2MPs are with the Zimbabweans plight in mind. Even babies know that the Zimbabweans want a change from ZANU PF particularly the old players.

Glorysmith - 7 August 2018

Britain needs to be punished for publicly supporting ED even before results are announced, congratulating him when there is a dispute and people being shot with live bullets on the streets, they are hypocrites..all thet care about is looting our resources and recolonising our land. CHAMISA MUST PUNISH BRITAIN WHEN TABLES TURN AND ED LOSES THE COURT APPEAL. THIS ELECTION WAS STOLEN AND RIGGED BY ZANU

rodney - 7 August 2018

The UK Foreign Secretary has no choice but to replace Catriona Laing. I shall be in touch with Jeremy Hunt on this issue.

Tony Daly - 7 August 2018

A pity that we need endorsement of the Zimbabwean situation from London. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. When will we continue kow towing to external forces? Zimbabwean challenges should be resolved by Zimbabweans. Britain did not consult Zimbabwe over BREXIT.

Daniel 5 - 8 August 2018

As long as you need foreign money we will always need endorsement of our situation by foreigners!!

Jonso - 8 August 2018

That scarf consists of our national flag colors and so, should not be misconstrued to be a Mnangagwa scarf. This is a mockery of our national flag that should not be tolerated.From this reportage, it is apparent that the two authors of that report are glaringly supporting Chamisa and the MDC Alliance which on its own is an interference in our internal processes the ultimate goal of which is to influence the election result.

Tichatonga - 8 August 2018

its a shame shame that she has continued to be a regime compatriot supporting them in public. we pray that she must be removed as British Envoy in Zim

doc - 9 August 2018

its sad to note that our country is divided amongst party lines and morality has since been eroded. Its a fact what liang did was partisan the scarf although it has our national flag is synonymous with ED and in her position its unearthical to do such a thing. Another fact is she represents the views of country and being partisan and open about it was wrong on her part. What is moral for Liang is to do the amicable thing and resign and suppot EDfreely without her position tying her down

junior Munyaradzi - 10 August 2018

Politicians who call for economic sanctions on Zimbabwe should be charged for treason. Some of them are members of parliament who are getting paid by Zimbabwe taxpayers. People like Biti and Chamisa are political prostitutes. They were preaching violence during the elections and when the going got tough, Biti ran away to seek asylum in Zambia, while some of their supporters were going to prison for violence.

ndiyani ndiyani - 14 August 2018

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