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Philip Barclay and Grace Mutandwa

Zimbabwe

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Friday 05 June, 2009

Zimbabwe must embrace change to survive

When Ambassador Andrew Pocock presented his credentials to President Robert Mugabe on February 16, three years ago, he noted that the country was at a crossroads. He pointed out that if the prevailing political situation continued, the country could find itself beyond rescue.

Zimbabwe, he pointed out, had a choice. It could change track, change policies and give its people the life, prospects and future they deserved. The Zimbabwean government could make that choice.

At the end of this month Ambassador Pocock leaves Zimbabwe after having experienced first hand the ruinous policies of the ZANU PF government. He leaves when an inclusive government is in place but with not much change on the ground. Morgan Tsvangirai and his opposition colleagues would like to make this new government work. But their political willpower to do good is not positively matched by their counterparts in ZANU PF.

You have Tsvangirai and his compatriots insisting that Reserve Bank Governor, Gideon Gono and Attorney General Johannes Tomana must be relieved of their duties. Mugabe and his war veterans on the other hand insist Gono must stay. A senior airforce chief has also joined the fray. It leaves you with no doubt that ZANU PF has no intention of being party to sensible change.

You have one group of ZANU PF politicians moaning about how the image of the country needs to be cleansed. At the same time you have state newspapers publishing insulting and demeaning letters and and opinion pieces about top American and British diplomats.

You have Tsvangirai telling journalists that media reforms are already there for them to enjoy. The minister of information Webster Shamu and presidential spokesman George Charamba both tell us nothing has changed. As far as the two are concerned journalists still need the state's blessing to do their work.

ZANU PF's John Nkomo and MDC's Sekai Holland among others all tell us that in the spirit of inclusiveness we must develop "national alzheimer and forgiveness" and promote national healing! We need a major miracle.

In the coming weeks, Tsvangirai embarks on a working tour of Europe. He must convince the world that its taxpayers money will be put to good use and accounted for. He must leave no doubt in the minds of the political, development and business leaders he will meet that what Zimbabwe is embarking on is real and meaningful change and not just essence of change.

While he engages the international community, Tsvangirai must be honest enough to accept that there are major hurdles ahead. As he he tours Europe he must keep the faith with the people who still need jobs, food, shelter and education.

During his European tour, Tsvangirai must remain alert to the fact that behind the facade of the inclusive government, lurk the same people that threatened war in the elections last year and beat the nation to a pulp. He must realise that there can not be any real change until these people genuinely start to share power.

And as Ambassador Pocock said when he arrived three years ago, "Around us is a competitive and globalising world, and a modernising Africa. Can Zimbabwe position itself to become part of that?"


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Mike Thomson is reporting from Zimbabwe on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme all this week. This morning he was describing people still living in fear after being abducted, assaulted and raped by ZANU PF militia over a year ago. He described a brave woman who has compiled a list of names of people tortured, killed, raped or maimed by Zanu-PF mobs last year. When he asked what would happen if she took the list to the police or to the Ministry of Justice, she said that she believed she would be killed. She has been warned that Zanu-PF hardliners have heard about the list and are trying to find her. If there is nothing more that we can do for her, I hope that at least the Embassy is able to let it be known that if anything happens to this woman, people in Britain will press Zimbabwe's friends and allies to hold ZANU-PF to account.

Posted by OwenE2 on June 09, 2009 at 08:23 PM BST #

Owen, Was there any follow up to this situation? I have tried looking through Radio 4's archieves and there seems to be nothing that I can find relating to the Mike Thompson programe. I would much appreciate it if you could let me know by posting a comment if you know anything, and it will come through the system. Many thanks

Posted by Road Legal Quad Bikes on December 29, 2009 at 06:31 PM GMT #

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