Britain slams Zanu PF violence

HARARE – The British government has condemned a new wave of violence blamed on President Robert Mugabe and his party Zanu PF ahead of anticipated elections this year.\r\n

Mark Canning, the United Kingdom envoy, said in a statement that he “noted with dismay the looting and violence perpetrated by Zanu PF youths” in Harare’s central business district on Monday.

“It is depressing that while the formation of the inclusive government almost two years ago presaged a better future for Zimbabwe, some elements continue to focus on their own narrow political ends rather than the good of the country,” he said.

“It is this sort of unchecked violence – ignored by the police – and not imaginary sanctions, which does untold damage to Zimbabwe’s reputation abroad and makes it harder for real friends such as the UK to help attract the investment the country so badly needs,” Canning added.

In addition to the ambassador’s assessment, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has squarely blamed Mugabe and his supporters for the latest wave of violence and disturbances to engulf the country.

This also follows recent acts of violence by Zanu PF–linked thugs in Budiriro, Glen Norah and Mbare.

Canning’s statement comes as his staffers, including second political secretary Sarah Bennett, were heckled and harrassed by a group of Zanu PF supporters in Mutasa Central last Wednesday, as they officiated at a hospital project at St Barbra’s Mission.

The rowdy mob, reportedly bussed in from neighbouring farms and distressed localities, protested the British party’s presence through placards denouncing a decade–old travel and financial embargo on Mugabe, and 200 of his close lieutenants.

The UK administration is among western nations which have taken strenuous personal actions and policies against Mugabe and his cronies for human rights abuse, stolen elections and other uncivil acts in the once prosperous nation.

Canning’s remarks not only mark London’s reinvigorated diplomacy on Zimbabwe’s increasingly erratic, and autocratic regime since Brian Donnelly’s days, but a new and additional voice to other western capitals’ sharp rebuke of Mugabe’s policy.

While American envoy Charles Ray and his predecessors have always taken the mantle in continually flaying Mugabe and Zanu PF’s bad ways or deeds, his British counterpart has joined the fray in a new and refreshing development.

Meanwhile, national police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena attributes the recent disturbances to Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change, although the force provided an escort to the marauding Zanu PF youths causing havoc in the capital Monday.