New British Envoy Wishes GNU A Success

HARARE- Britain's new ambassador to Zimbabwe, Mark Canning, says his country wants the Inclusive Government to succeed and sees it as a crucial opportunity for Zimbabwe to move forward and to chart a more prosperous and stable course.

"I am delighted to be in Zimbabwe at such an important time. The formation of the Inclusive Government was a significant step forward. It was a development the UK warmly welcomed and which we are committed to support. These are still early days. 

The Inclusive Government is only in its sixth month but it has registered some significant gains, particularly in terms of economic stabilisation. There is much work to be done but a start has been made," he said when he met President Robert Mugabe to present his credentials on Wednesday.

"In doing so, we, and our EU partners, will be guided by the extent to which the commitments on which the Inclusive Government is founded – particularly in areas such as the rule of law, media, electoral and legislative reform, freedom of expression and assembly – are reflected in developments on the ground. We hope to see an end to violence, particularly violence intended to achieve political ends, and steps to enhance the security of individuals and property," said Canning.

"The UK is not hanging back in its support, quite the contrary. We are already providing substantial financial assistance, to the tune of US$100 million this year, our biggest programme ever. These funds are being used to support the national HIV prevention and treatment programme: the distribution of vital medicines: support to health services, clean water and improved sanitation, along with the restoration of other key services."

The UK, he said, was delivering an extensive rural livelihoods programme that was reaching as many as 1.5 million people with seeds, fertiliser and food support as well as the provision of other humanitarian support. It was also supporting the procurement of textbooks to help improve the quality of education.

Last year, UK’s assistance helped nearly two million of the poorest people to grow more food, get access to clean water, and support community-based care for people living with HIV and AIDS.

"We provided a large proportion of the country’s supply of essential medicines, and HIV treatment to 48,000 people, helped keep AIDS-affected children in school and we continued to promote behaviour change that has helped lead to a drop in HIV rates.  During last year’s food emergency, the UK also provided $14.5 million to help the World Food Programme feed up to seven million vulnerable people by the end of March 2009," he said.

Canning is a career member of the British diplomatic service. His previous assignment was as British Ambassador to Burma between 2006 to 2009. His previous postings have included spells in Malaysia, Indonesia the US and West Africa. His periods in London have included several spells working on African issues.

Mark was educated at Downside School and the University of London and holds a Masters in Business Administration.  He is married to Cecilia and the couple has one daughter.