Officials representing Mr Flake deny that he had taken sides in the Zimbabwean polls. The Senator, who is due to arrive in the country as an election observer introduced a bipartisan legislation, alongside Democrat Senator Chris Coons, passed this week by Congress, on lifting sanctions on Zimbabwe.
The bill updates the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act setting out the terms under which the punitive economic measures would be lifted, starting with ensuring that the results of the elections on 30 July are not fraudulent.
Flake said “This measure outlines steps that will go a long way to demonstrate that Zimbabwe’s government is earnest in its desire to bring about long-overdue change for the people of Zimbabwe. I look forward to returning to Zimbabwe ahead of what I hope to be a free and fair election.”
Mnangagwa, who is 35 years older than Chamisa, is presenting himself as the elder statesman who will heal the internal divisions and have the foreign connections necessary to bring Zimbabwe into the international fold.
As the MDC leader was making fiery speeches in rallies held on dusty football fields to a largely young following, Mnangagwa was in South Africa as a guest at a summit of the leaders of BRICS ( Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) states.
There the Zimbabwean President had photo opportunities with Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, Narendra Modi, Cyril Ramaphosa and Brazil’s Michael Temer.
Mnangagwa told the meeting in Johannesburg: “I consider it essential to be present at this forum and have a rare opportunity to exchange views. We want to be a middle-income country with decent jobs, broad-based empowerment free from poverty and corruption by 2030. We carry a sense that better days are coming…Zimbabwe stands ready to enhance collaboration, inclusive growth and shared responsibility for all.”
Since taking power after the removal of Mugabe in a coup last November Mnangagwa had been at the annual meeting of the African Union and the World Economic Forum. He claimed that delegations were “lining up” to meet him and his team from Harare at Davos and he had tolkd them that “Zimbabwe was open for business.”
Zimbabwe’s rich agricultural sector was ruined in the way white owned farms was taken over in “land reform”. Mnangagwa has attended meetings with white farmers and has given orders for the 250 to 300 still remaining in the country to be given 99 year leases on their land.
Much of the best land expropriated was given to officials and ministers of Mnangagwa’s ZANU-PF. But it appears that the white community, as well as the Asian one, and the business sector is lining up behind him in the election.
Britain was the first country to send a minister, Rory Stewart, then at the Foreign Office, to Zimbabwe after Mugabe’s fall and there is a perception among Chamisa’s supporters that the former colonial power was backing Mnangagwa.
At a MDC rally, Fortune Tirivangani, a 26 year old unemployed engineering graduate, said: “The UK is going to forget all the terrible crimes of Mnangagwa if it can get commercial advantage and political influence. It has never accepted being forced to leave our country.”
By Kim Sengupta for The Independent