A British Lord Peter Grant has queried by Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa was invited to the coronation of King Charles on 6 May despite his poor human rights record.
He said Zimbabwe should also not be allowed back into the Commonwealth until it starts to treat British citizens and its own people like human beings.
He told the House of Lords yesterday: “In 2017, when Emmerson Mnangagwa took over as Zimbabwean President from Robert Mugabe, he promised a new time for the people of Zimbabwe.
“In fact, he has done the opposite. He kept on the henchmen and thugs who forced my constituent, Paul Westwood, and his family literally to flee for their lives at midnight, taking with them only the clothes that they could wear.
“We have seen human rights in Zimbabwe collapsing into the same kind of brutality that we saw under Mugabe.
“The Westwoods are very concerned to hear that President Mnangagwa is likely to be honoured as a guest at the coronation in a couple of weeks’ time.
“I understand why the government cannot comment on individual invitations, but can the House be given an opportunity to look at the criteria that are considered before any Head of State or Head of Government is treated as a guest of our government, our monarch or our Parliament?
“Can we have an assurance from the Foreign Office that any attempt by Zimbabwe to come back into the Commonwealth will not be considered until it starts to treat UK citizens and its own people like human beings?”
In response, Penny Mordaunt, Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons, said Grant should raise his question with the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office on 2 May.
“I thank the hon. Gentleman for his question. On a slightly wider point, he will know that the Department for Culture, Media and Sport in particular and also other departments will be running briefings for Members of this House about the coronation and the events surrounding it,” she said.
“I suggest that he raises this specific issue at Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office questions on 2 May.”
Mnangagwa was personally invited to the coronation by British ambassador to Zimbabwe Melanie Robinson.