While most Zimbabweans are perpetually whining about poverty in their country, a British Member of Parliament yesterday described Zimbabwe as “probably the richest and most resourced country” in sub-Saharan Africa.
But James Duddridge, a Conservative MP, said Zimbabwe’s resources had benefitted very few of its people and savaged so many.
With the country heading for elections, Duddridge said it was critical that the British government, and the wider international community, particularly SADC and South African President, Jacob Zuma, do everything to ensure the upcoming polls are bona fide and “as the people want”.
This meant that international election observers were critical, and so was ensuring that all political parties would be held accountable for their actions.
“Whilst there will be some who think Zimbabwe should no longer be a priority for the UK’s foreign policy, particularly with recent news of chemical weapons being used in Syria, a nuclear North Korea and the threat of Islamic rebels spreading across North Africa, that is to miss a vital point.
“Where do you think countries like Iran and North Korea are turning to for uranium and other resource supplies? Where do you think the millions of dollars of diamonds revenues are going? We need to look at the longer term and problems around the corner,” he said.
Duddridge said the elections did not just offer the people of Zimbabwe hope, they offered the UK a chance to show it remained very much at the forefront of global foreign policy because with a democratically elected Government in power, Zimbabwe could be a major strategic ally to the West.
“Let’s remember, after all, that the average Zimbabwean is far more interested in a decent education, Manchester United and Nike trainers than they are with religious extremism or the development of nuclear arsenals. It is important we ensure there are free and fair elections so the people of Zimbabwe can decide.”
He quoted an unnamed Movement for Democratic Change supporter who said who said Zimbabwe would end up like the Democratic Republic of Congo in ZANU-Pf won.
“We really are on the edge here. We have an opportunity now to kick on from the last five years work and get Zimbabwe back on its feet and back to prosperity. If we can once again become a viable destination for foreign investment, and get business working again, then all Zimbabweans will benefit. If we see what we saw in 2008, or a ZANU victory then God help us. We’ll be forgotten, and end up like the DRC,” the MDC supporter is reported to have said.