Top UK diplomat detours to Zimbabwe

Top UK diplomat detours to Zimbabwe
Simon McDonald

Simon McDonald

THE permanent under-secretary in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Simon McDonald, arrived in the country this week, the second high-profile British government representative to visit Zimbabwe inside three months, in another sign of thawing relations between Harare and Whitehall.
This follows indications that Zimbabwe, which withdrew from the Commonwealth in 2003 over sharp differences arising from its 2002 elections as well as land redistribution programme, might have some representation at the grouping’s April summit to be held in London. This would be a precursor to Zimbabwe’s eventual readmission.
The immediate past Britain’s Africa Minister, Rory Stewart, who was changed in this week’s Cabinet reshuffle, visited Zimbabwe last November and met President Emmerson Mnangagwa, successor to the UK’s bête noire Robert Mugabe, whose 37-year reign was forcefully ended by the military.
Despite warm early ties, Mugabe’s relationship with Britain soured in 2000 when he oversaw the seizure of white-owned farms, which his government parceled out to landless blacks.
McDonald, whose position makes him the head of the UK’s diplomatic service, visited South Africa and Botswana before heading to Zimbabwe.
“I planned my tour of Southern Africa months ago. After the events of November, I added Zimbabwe to the itinerary,” McDonald revealed on Twitter.
On Tuesday, McDonald met a handful of Zimbabweans over dinner at British ambassador Catriona Laing’s residence, before having a breakfast meeting with business leaders yesterday.
Yesterday, McDonald also met Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister, Sibusiso Moyo, tweeting afterwards:”Good discussion with Foreign Minister Moyo about reintegrating Zimbabwe into international community and normalising relationship with UK – new dispensation, new possibilities.”
Details of the meetings have not been made public, but recent developments point to a desire by the UK to change its stance on Zimbabwe in line with the change of guard in Harare.
Mnangagwa has indicated his intention to end Zimbabwe’s estrangement from the West and will this month attend the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos later this month. He has also undertaken to deliver a free and fair election this year while implementing economic reforms, key Western benchmarks.
Britain, on the other hand, has hinted at supporting efforts to stabilise Zimbabwe’s currency system and providing a bridging loan to help the country clear its arrears with international lenders, on condition that Zimbabwe shows “democratic progress”.
“Those are indeed the things that we would try to do to help Zimbabwe forward, but we’ve got to see how the democratic process unfolds,” British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson told Reuters on the sidelines of an African Union-EU summit in Abidjan, days after Mugabe’s ouster.


  • Stavo Jean

    Good news, last year Britain also pledged to work closely with the new Zimbabwean Government, with a view to turn around the economy following the inauguration of President Emmerson Mnangagwa as the country’s new leader. Britain’s Africa Minister Rory Stewart, who became the first envoy to pay courtesy call on the newly appointed President, said his country was ready to strengthen its relations with Zimbabwe. Let this not just be statements. Action speaks louder than words

    • Innocent DeMorgan

      Only time will tell

  • Arab Attack

    One of Robert Mugabe’s enduring characteristics has been his declared hatred of most things British and to a lesser extent all things Western. He portrays Britain as the mother of all evil and ascribes Zimbabwe’s economic failures to the machinations of the British. Britain was his perceived arch-enemy and number one nemesis. Better he is gone. Not that the British are gods but we just need to improve diplomatic relations to revive our economy. We need each other in a fair and transparent manner, Mugabe made it so difficult to happen

    • masvukupete

      Dont worry it was mostky personal. Bob cud not endure the “indignity” of being disowned by the British he took the whole country to war against the British. Aitongo zvirwarira zvake mudhara wedu!! He was a clinical pshycho in all senses.

  • Arab Attack

    UK should not talk about compensation for what happened during the land reform program. They should be ashamed for doing so, or they have short memories. They stole this land when colonised us.

  • Tinashe Banda

    Is it the British who are desperate for more and closer ties with Zanupf. Or its Zanupf big-wigs who have their sons and daughters in the UK, USA, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. These people pretend that Zanupf is begging but truly its them who are begging for space to have access to Zimbabwe’s resources. Forget about them ever getting worried about genuine human rights, freedom and democracy for Zimbabwean people as a whole.

    • Zimbo samanyemba

      Tinashe Banda , u not even Zimbabwean . Shut up .

      • Tinashe Banda

        Get away and you shut up Zimbo samanyemba. You are very silly. My origin might be from Malawi but been here for the past 23 years that makes me qualified to talk all I want about Zimbabwe.

        • Stavo Jean

          Does it matter if you are Zimbabwean or not. If a point is valid and makes sense let it be written. It does not matter whether it is from Donald Trump, a Nigerian, Malawian or Jamaican. Zimbo samanyemba you are being shallow

          • Gladman Marowa

            Zimboz, why divert from the real issues in the story

    • gabarinocheka

      If you dont have something positive to contribute, just keep quiet.This is supposed to be a platform for well-informed and incisive insights

  • Kevin Mpofu

    Its high time we correct all these imbalances.

  • Mambara

    British are racists, they pretend to like you but deep down they behave like Donald Sh*thole Trump

  • Farai Ndonda

    “The immediate past Britain’s Africa Minister, Rory Stewart, who was changed in this week’s Cabinet reshuffle, visited Zimbabwe last November and met President Emmerson Mnangagwa, successor to the UK’s bête noire Robert Mugabe, whose 37-year reign was forcefully ended by the military”………….Does anyone has a link or report of his views about Zimbabwe. Help anyone

  • Farai

    So what was Simon McDonald’s views and conclusion on Zimbabwe.

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