By Lenin Ndebele | TimesLive |
Zimbabwe’s foreign affairs minister, Sibusiso Moyo, was attacked outside the Royal Institute of International Affairs, commonly known as Chatham House, in London on Friday.
Moyo is in England leading a Zimbabwean delegation on a four-day re-engagement programme to strengthen bilateral relations and to woo investment for Zimbabwe. His visit comes at a time when Zimbabwe is also seeking readmission to the Commonwealth.
When he left Chatham House in the afternoon, a group of Zimbabwean protesters charged at the minister and his security detail.
One of the protesters managed to spray the minister with water from a bottle as he attempted to get into his designated vehicle. At that point, the minister was whisked away in another vehicle.
A Zimbabwean academic based in London, Dr Admore Tshuma, said the protesters were MDC Alliance supporters, and called for the Zimbabwean embassy in London to do something about the embarrassing incident.
“Foreign affairs minister Moyo being attacked by MDC supporters in London today. This must be condemned. The Zimbabwe embassy must get the perpetrators arrested. The UK is a democracy with law and order no matter what,” he said.
At Chatham House, SB Moyo and crew sees fire!! pic.twitter.com/8w4f1FRKyg
— MDC-UK Wolves-Walsall (@WolvesBranchMDC) July 12, 2019
Another Zimbabwean in London, Patricia Chinyoka, said the minister’s security team almost hurt two women but they were saved by other protesters who came to their rescue.
“It’s very sad indeed to note that Moyo’s security man lashed out at two female protesters. He could’ve hurt them very badly if others hadn’t come to their aid,” she said.
Moyo arrived in London at a time when there is growing disgruntlement back home about the economy. However, the retired army lieutenant-general, who announced the November 2017 coup and is also a trained diplomat, told the meeting that Zimbabwe needed to work with Britain to improve its former colony’s prospects.
“We agreed at the time that Zimbabwe and the UK must be partners in unlocking whatever perception of Zimbabwe the Americans had. The reforms we are undertaking are for the benefit of our people. Sanctions are outdated and don’t serve either Zimbabwe or the US,” he said at a meeting with potential business investors from Britain.
In a statement, Secretary for Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Service Mr Nick Mangwana, who is part of the delegation, described the attack as tragic and embarrassing to peace-loving Zimbabweans.
“The delegation in London had great engagements with different stakeholders. Government of Zimbabwe condemns the violent attacks against the delegation by a group of opposition protesters outside Chatham House in London.
“It’s tragic that the sceptre of violence during protests we see in Zimbabwe forcing the security services to act has reared its ugly head in a foreign land discrediting, not the Government, but the hoodlums themselves and embarrassing peace-loving Zimbabweans,” said Mr Mangwana.
“The attacks have not, however, disrupted Minister SB Moyo’s successful engagements in the UK in any way. Undeterred, his programme continued with fruitful meetings with the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, investors and tonight we end with engaging a progressive Zimbabwean Diaspora and other key stakeholders, whose support for our country’s economic and political reform efforts remains steadfast.
“The Government of Zimbabwe remains committed to peaceful dialogue with all parties, with a view to building our country around shared values, including the principles of respectful disagreement and non-violence. We affirm the right of Zimbabweans to protest but to do so peacefully,” Mangwana added.