British MP says UK should talk to Tsvangirai not Mugabe


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A British Member of Parliament Kate Hoey today said Britain should talk to Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai because his party, the Movement for Democratic Change, speaks for Zimbabwe now. President Robert Mugabe’s days are gone and he lives in the past.

Hoey said this in a letter to the Financial Times in which she was responding to an article by former Times Africa editor Michael Holman who had urged Britain to start talking to Mugabe in view of the pending elections and Mugabe’s ailing health.

Holman wrote: “As promised elections draw nearer, voter intimidation by the ruling party is on the rise and a nervous population seeks assurances about post-Mugabe Zimbabwe. If ever there were a time for constructive external advice, it is now.

“Yet rather than encouraging contact, London appears to have ordered its embassy in Harare to do little more than keep a diplomatic death watch, as if Mr Mugabe’s demise will mark the removal of the obstacle on the country’s road to peace and democracy. Maybe.

“But there is also a case for fearing that his death will be a catalyst for violence. Expectations of his imminent passing have created a febrile atmosphere in the ranks of his ZANU-PF party, which shares power in an uneasy coalition. Far from seeking to restore honest governance, Mr Mugabe’s would-be successors plot and scheme, seeking ways to protect vested interests.”

Hoey, who is chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Zimbabwe in the House of Commons, responded: “Robert Mugabe is 87 and lives in the past, as his rants against British imperialism show. Michael Holman seems also to be living in the past.

“The days are long gone when Zimbabwe’s future could be stitched up through behind the scenes contact by go-betweens from the British government. Zimbabwe’s future must be decided by Zimbabweans, most of whom are under 30 and born after independence. They have made their democratic will very clear, and it is to them that Mr Mugabe and the geriatric leadership of ZANU-PF have shut their ears.

“Morgan Tsvangirai and his Movement for Democratic Change speak for Zimbabwe now and our dialogue should be with them….”

Hoey was in Zimbabwe in March this year and tabled a debate in the British parliament in April in which she said Britain must not keep its eyes off Zimbabwe.

“We in the UK have close ties with Zimbabwe. There are social, political and diplomatic links. Despite all the talk of Africa’s new connections with China, India, Russia and other parts of the world, it is to the UK that Zimbabweans come for asylum. It is in the UK that Zimbabweans feel most at home if they need to live or work away from southern Africa,” she told the house.

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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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