British legislators call for Zimbabwe’s Mnangagwa to be ‘disinvited’ from royal coronation of King Charles
The United Kingdom’s All-Party Parliamentary Group on Zimbabwe is demanding that London withdraw its invitation to Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa to attend the coronation of King Charles, citing severe political and human rights violations in the southern African country.
In a letter written to British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly, the group, chaired by Navendu Mishra MP, urged the UK government to reconsider its advice to Buckingham Palace on President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s invitation to the royal event on 6 May.
“To summarise, political violence and human rights abuses are widespread, with opposition members of parliament and party members harassed, beaten, imprisoned and murdered … corruption is rife, extending to the highest levels of government, destroying the economy and impoverishing the Zimbabwe people; and the judiciary and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and all institutions of the state have been suborned to the ruling party,” reads part of the letter co-signed by members of the group.
High-level corruption was exposed in a recent documentary, “Gold Mafia”, produced by Al Jazeera that exposed the illicit gold trade and money laundering by Mnangagwa’s cronies and foreign syndicates.
Following the exposé, the country’s information minister, Monica Mutsvangwa, announced that Zimbabwean authorities were investigating those who were singled out in the documentary, with the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe freezing bank accounts and assets of the country’s ambassador-at-large, Uebert Angel.
The UK legislators added: “The main opposition party leader Nelson Chamisa is habitually denied permission to hold rallies and his political activities are frequently disrupted by violent Zanu-PF supporters and the police. The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission appointees are overwhelming Zanu-PF supporters, including the sons and daughters of key Zanu-PF officials.”
They also criticised the continued detention of Zimbabwe’s opposition legislator, Job Sikhala, who has been held in prison for close to a year since his arrest after providing legal representation to slain opposition activist, Moreblessing Ali. Ali was abducted and murdered by Pius Jamba Mukandi, a Zanu-PF party activist who has since pleaded guilty to the charges.
“It is more than 300 days since Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) deputy chairperson, Job Sikhala MP, was detained after providing legal representation to the family of murdered opposition campaigner, Moreblessing Ali. Since then, he has been held without trial in Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison and denied his constitutional right to bail.”
Political violence characterised the run-up to last year’s parliamentary by-elections won by CCC, resulting in opposition activist Mboneni Ncube being killed by suspected Zanu-PF members in the town of Kwekwe, Midlands Province.
Read more in Daily Maverick: Zanu-PF trounced in Zimbabwe parliamentary and municipal by-elections
Read more in Daily Maverick: Zanu-PF accused of gangsterism in orgy of violence as Zimbabwe by-elections loom
Contacted for comment, President Mnangagwa’s spokesperson, George Charamba, was quick to dismiss the call by the UK legislators.
“He [President Mnangagwa] was not invited by the UK parliamentarians; he was invited by His Majesty the King. End of story,” said Charamba.
He would not be drawn into commenting on allegations raised by the British legislators, although Justice Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi was quoted by the Voice of America’s Studio 7 as saying all Zimbabweans were equal before the law.
CCC’s international relations secretary, Gladys Hlatshwayo, told Daily Maverick that whatever the British government did in response to the call by its legislators would be inconsequential.
“What is more significant is the depth of the issues raised against the Zimbabwe regime. This letter is a serious indictment of the Mnangagwa regime and evidence that the world is watching as his regime wantonly targets the opposition and plunders the resources of the country at the expense of the millions of suffering Zimbabweans. Zanu-PF has failed in absolute terms,” she said.
Only five Zimbabwean officials, excluding Mnangagwa, and one entity, Zimbabwe Defence Industries, remain on the UK’s sanctions list, although the United States has maintained restrictive measures against the Zimbabwean leader.
Mnangagwa, who blames sanctions for his country’s poor economic performance, is set to proclaim the election date at the end of next month, in effect putting the southern African country in election mode. This, after the ruling party completed its candidate selection process, while the CCC is still nominating its candidates.
Despite calls for key democratic reforms, including security sector and electoral reforms, Mnangagwa is forging ahead with plans to conduct the polls.
A fringe opposition party, the MDCT led by Douglas Mwonzora, has also approached the Constitutional Court, challenging the validity of the delimitation report compiled by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission demarcating electoral boundaries to be used in this year’s elections. If the application is successful, Mnangagwa may be forced to postpone elections – or call for elections using boundaries from the 2018 polls.
Meanwhile, civil society has also condemned Mnangagwa’s administration for inviting the authoritarian ruler of Eswatini, Mswati III, to officially open the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair that kicked off in the second-largest city of Bulawayo on Tuesday.
“Mswati III is a soiled leader with the blood of innocent citizens killed for legitimately demanding elections based on one person one vote and not selections in the Ngwane Kingdom,” said Obert Masaraure, spokesperson of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition.
“What saddens us most is welcoming a ruthless and unaccountable leader to Bulawayo, itself a hub of unresolved injustices where an estimated 20,000 civilians were killed by a similarly unaccountable and unapologetic government in the 1980s.”
Acknowledging the injustices, the late former Zimbabwean leader, Robert Mugabe, fell short of apologising for the massacres and described the killings orchestrated by the North Korean-trained Fifth Brigade as “a moment of madness”. DM