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Is Zanu PF reading too much into London visit
Clifford Chitupa Mashiri
March 25, 2013

For more than 10 years, no senior Zanu-PF official has had the privilege of being hosted by the UK Government until this week’s visit by justice minister Mr Patrick Chinamasa. He is a co-guest of the Friends of Zimbabwe in London alongside MDC ministers in the GNU, Mrs Priscilla Misihairambwi-Mushonga and Mr Elton Mangoma.

But should Zanu-PF read too much into this visit? The answer depends on one’s conceptualisation of foreign policy and the Zimbabwe crisis.

For propaganda purposes, the former ruling party has always tried to project the Zimbabwe crisis as a problem between Britain and Robert Mugabe’s seizure of white-owned farms.

While that is an outstanding issue, Zanu-PF has shrewdly pushed the problem of poor governance, political violence, human rights abuses, and electoral fraud to the background, presenting them as unjustified claims by civil society that should be ignored, urging for ‘business as usual’ with whichever foreign government is willing to listen.

Despite the invitation having been sent to the three ministers from three parties in the GNU, Zanu-PF has not given up on writing home about the letter from London seeing it as some kind of a party victory on British foreign policy.

That remains to be seen. But who knows, with national interests or more precisely economic interests dictating political decisions more than human rights issues, one could excuse the former ruling party’s rather “pre-mature judgement” or wishful thinking.

Obviously, the granting of bail to human rights lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa ahead of the London meeting lends credibility to accusations of a politicised judiciary given that the ZRP was adamant that the distinguished lawyer remains incarcerated until 3rd April 2013.

Hopefully, the Friends of Zimbabwe will recall how a BBC crew was subjected to unprovoked violence in Harare before the referendum proving that not only opposition activists are potential victims of political violence in Zimbabwe ahead of harmonised elections.

In other words, the Friends of Zimbabwe should make all offers of help conditional on the holding of peaceful, free and fair elections that are monitored by international observers from the EU, UN, AU and SADC among other bilateral delegations.

Also, it is hoped that other GNU parties have realised by now how the international community takes them seriously whenever they shower Robert Mugabe with praises only to lose face when Zanu-pf rewards their conciliatory stance with political harassment through arrests on trumped-up charges.

Maybe the MDC formations should request the Friends of Zimbabwe in the presence of Zanu-PF’s pointer man for help in drawing up credible security sector and media reforms ahead of harmonised elections, to avoid being accused of taking sides with western countries.

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