HARARE – The United Kingdom’s minister for Africa, held talks with the new president Emmerson Mnangagwa, politicians Morgan Tsvangirai and Joice Mujuru and civil society leaders following Mr Mugabe’s resignation.
The Cumbrian MP Rory Stewart has also visited human rights groups, NGOs and seen some of the UK’s development work going on in the country.
Mr Stewart told the News & Star: “Zimbabweans and the international community will have been pleased to see that the President emphasised his commitment to reform and free and fair elections in his speech.
“All the Zimbabweans that I met – from business people to human rights activists – see this as a possible moment for reform.
“They are desperate to see real progress on the economy, on jobs and to see the constitution respected through fair elections and the rule of law.”
But he also warned that it is “early days”.
The minister, who initially flew out to South Africa to lead the UK response on behalf of the Foreign Office, said: “Zimbabweans will be looking for clear signs of real progress.
“We – and our partners – believe in Zimbabwe and the incredible potential of the country and its people.
“And we would like to support the people of Zimbabwe so we will be listening hard and watching events very carefully. ”
Meanwhile the Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu, who is Chancellor of the University of Cumbria, has resumed wearing a dog collar after cutting up his previous one in protest at Robert Mugabe’s rule in Zimbabwe.
Dr John Sentamu said a South African-style truth and reconciliation process was needed to heal Zimbabwe’s divisions following the end of Mr Mugabe’s 37-year rule.
The Archbishop said Zimbabwe’s new president Emmerson Mnangagwa, a former ally of Mr Mugabe, should not attempt to “bury the past” and his role in it.
“He needs similar to what South Africa did – a truth, justice and reconciliation commission to look into it so that this doesn’t hang over him like a big cloud.
“I’m a man of faith, a strong believer in hope and a strong believer that people can change so it’s quite possible that Emmerson Mnangagwa could actually be a very good president.
“But he can’t simply bury the past, it won’t go away.”
Asked if 93-year-old Mr Mugabe should be forgiven, he said: “Mugabe at some point needs to say to the people of Zimbabwe: 37 years (ago) I took on a country which was fantastic, I nearly took it to ruin, Zimbabweans forgive me.”
The Ugandan-born Archbishop, who cut up his clerical collar in a symbolic protest on TV a decade ago, returned to the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show to be handed back the remains of the item.
Instead of attempting to reassemble the old collar he produced a new one from his pocket and put it around his neck.
“I actually think the lesson for Zimbabwe is the same – you just can’t try and stitch it up, something more radical, something new needs to happen in terms of the rule of law, allowing people to get jobs – because 90 per cent of people aren’t in work.
“You can’t just stitch it up, I need a new collar.”