Mnangagwa en route to Great Britain, first Zimbabwean leader in a western country in 25 years

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa speaks at an annual conference of the ruling ZANU-PF party in Bindura, 80 kilometers north of Zimbabwe’s capital Harare, October 30, 2021. (Columbus Mavhunga / VOA)

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa says he will attend COP26, becoming the first Zimbabwean leader to visit the UK since Zimbabwe was accused of human rights abuses and election fraud. Mnangagwa also said a UN rapporteur had proven his government was right on the sanctions issue.

After closing an annual conference of the ruling ZANU-PF party on Saturday in Bindura, 80 kilometers north of Zimbabwe’s capital, Mnangagwa said he was looking forward to attending the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, known as COP26, in Scotland on Sunday begins.

“I would like to inform the conference that I am going to Glasgow, UK tomorrow morning (Sunday) after over two decades without the Zimbabwean leadership having gone to the UK. I was invited by [British Prime Minister] Boris Johnson and [he] hinted that he might meet me; one on one as well as with other leaders like the Indian Prime Minister and others we meet them, ”he said.

Mnangagwa also said he was pleased to receive a report from UN Special Rapporteur Alena Douhan after a two-week visit to Zimbabwe. The Belarusian citizen called on the US and other Western governments to lift the sanctions they had imposed on Zimbabwe nearly two decades ago for alleged election rigging and human rights violations.

Delegates react at an annual conference of the ruling party ZANU-PF in Bindura, Zimbabwe, Oct. 30, 2021.  (Columbus Mavhunga / VOA)
Delegates react at an annual conference of the ruling party ZANU-PF in Bindura, Zimbabwe, Oct. 30, 2021. (Columbus Mavhunga / VOA)

“We as a government, we as ZANU-PF, have been confirmed by the report published by the United Nations Special Rapporteur. We should congratulate ourselves. We have never been wrong, and we will continue to be right. Those found outside the law should assess their position, ”Mnangagwa said.

But in an audio statement released by the US Embassy in Harare, US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said sanctions against Zimbabwe’s leadership do not harm ordinary citizens.

“Our sanctions are directed against individuals and institutions who commit human rights violations. And we are making every effort to ensure that these sanctions do not affect people. What is happening in Zimbabwe is the result of bad politics in Zimbabwe. What is happening in Zimbabwe is a result of their leadership. This is not a consequence of our sanctions and we will always resist any criticism that our sanctions affect people unfairly. We are being criticized by the government [of Zimbabwe] for these actions because they know that they are responsible for these actions. I regret that the special rapporteur decided to insert this [her] Report, ”said Thomas-Greenfield.

In response to reports of election rigging and human rights, the European Union imposed travel and financial sanctions on then Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and his allies in 2002. The USA followed suit in 2003 with sanctions.

Earlier this week, the US, UK and European Union said in separate statements that Zimbabwe’s economy is suffering not from sanctions but from corruption and government mismanagement of the country’s resources. – VOA

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