UK Government says Minister's arrest – sinister motive

Harare, – The British government has described the arrest of Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Deputy Secretary General, Elton Mangoma and the reversal by the Supreme Court the election of its chairman, Lovermore Mangoma as Speaker of Parliament as a “sinister” move by President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu (PF) party aimed at intimidating its political opponents ahead of a possible election.\r\n

“These are both highly sinister developments, marking a significant increase in pressures. The Government are urgently seeking further clarification, and we will have no hesitation at all in voicing our concerns with the appropriate interlocutors, and in every way we can,” said Lord Howell of Guildford, the UK State Minister responsible for Commonwealth Affairs while answering questions in the House of Lords on Thursday.

The House of Lords spent three hours debating the political situation in Zimbabwe highlighting the increased politically motivated violence, pilferage of diamonds and a general instability in the unity government.

Members of the house raised concern over the arrest of Mangoma and 46 others on trumped up charges.

“These are clear evidence of a development that we do not like, which might herald the start of pre-election intimidation campaigns, although there is no certainty yet about the date of elections,” said Howell.

Howell suggested that the impending elections be postponed until all the necessary reforms agreed in the Global Political Agreement (GPA) are fulfilled.

“Obviously, a longer timeframe would permit more of the building blocks for free and fair elections to be put in place, instead of all these counter-pressures. If the elections take place later this year, which is one suggestion, those attempts to build conditions for free and fair elections will be curtailed. So our aim is to do whatever we can to help prevent a repeat of the violence that marred the elections back in 2008,” said Howell.

“It is in SADC’s interests to have a neighbour that is politically stable and economically thriving, and it has a regional mandate to take concrete action when the UK or EU does not. We are encouraged by the recent increased diplomatic activity in working to create an environment conducive to holding free and fair elections, and fully support it in its continuing efforts,” he said.

There was a general consensus that an election will be the only way to bring an end to the long drawn political squabbles in Zimbabwe.

However there was a significant measure of emphasis on making sure that the election will only be held in a conducive environment.

Furthermore Howell encouraged the diamond monitor Kimberly Process to be stricter on Zimbabwe and plug the pilferage of diamonds by Zanu (PF) officials.