British businessman returns to Zimbabwe to help anti-Mugabe forces

HUDDERSFIELD, United Kingdom – A British businessman is returning to Zimbabwe to support the opposition to the country’s veteran leader Robert Mugabe.\r\n

Alan Fish, who lives at High Flatts near Birdsedge, will travel to the southern African country to support the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

The 57-year-old, who is managing director of water cooler installation firm Cool Water Direct, visited Zimbabwe in April, 2008.

Mr Fish organised a rally attended by 50 MDC supporters at Smith Farm in High Flatts after returning from Africa.

And now he plans to go back to Zimbabwe.

Mr Fish said: “I’m going on April 25 to the MDC congress which they hold every five years. I’ll be there for just over a week.

“I’m hoping to get involved with the politics of the MDC a bit closer.”

The congress will be held in the Zimbabwean city of Bulawayo from April 30 to May 1.

The last time Mr Fish visited the country, the MDC were trying to win presidential and parliamentary elections.

But the party is now in an uneasy coalition with Mr Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party.

Mr Fish said: “Theoretically the MDC are in government, but Mugabe has been quite clever at letting the MDC top brass get their snouts in the trough, which has placated them to some extent.

“But the MDC is still being attacked and intimidated. Its supporters are getting arrested for spurious reasons and being tortured while under arrest.

“There are trumped-up charges of treason, which carries the death penalty. There are a lot of political arrests and violence again because it’s possible there will be elections this year.”

Mr Fish is also disappointed that the retirement in 2009 of South African president Thabo Mbeki – seen as a key ally of Mr Mugabe – hasn’t made more difference in neighbouring Zimbabwe.

“When Jacob Zuma took over as president of South Africa the MDC thought he would be pro-them and anti-Mugabe,” said Mr Fish.

“It hasn’t worked out quite that way. Mugabe is still regarded as a hero so, until he dies, it will be difficult to do anything but put up with the status quo.”

Mr Fish is doubtful that the wave of popular uprisings in the Arab world could spread to southern Africa.

He said: “MDC rallies are banned because Mugabe is scared of what happened in Tunisia and Egypt happening in Zimbabwe.

“I don’t think that will happen because Zimbabweans are more peaceful, they tend to go home and pray that Mugabe will go.

“It’s a bit sad but that’s the psyche of the people.”