PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday said he was shocked by the United Kingdom’s current hostile attitude towards Zimbabwe, especially considering the two countries’ “excellent relations” dating back to the colonial era.
This came after UK early this week threatened to impose punitive measures against Harare over escalating human rights abuses and corruption.
Mnangagwa made the remarks while officially opening the Railway Museum in Bulawayo where some of the exhibits on display include personal coaches built for the late colonial leaders Cecil John Rhodes and King George VI.
“I wanted to understand the spirit, environment that existed in 1896 when Rhodes was commuting between Cape Town and Southern Rhodesia and the coach he was using, the facilities he had created for himself and some of his colleagues, the four musketeers,” Mnangagwa said as he explained the purpose of his visit to the museum.
“That history has been preserved. One would expect that there should be excellent relations between us and those who came after King George VI.”
Rhodes, who was born in 1853 and died in 1902 was an imperialist, businessman and politician who played a dominant role in southern Africa in the late 19th century, leading the invasion of Zimbabwe by colonialists.
He founded the De Beers diamond firm which until recently controlled global trade and his remains lie interred at Matopo.
“I have been shown the coach which King George VI used to come here and use with the King George family, including Queen Elizabeth, when she was a young girl. Pictures are here, the utensils they used for diner, lunch for breakfast; all those things are here. We have looked after these things for nearly 100 years now or thereabout,” Mnangagwa said. “I am happy that I have been able to see the coach which was used to colonise us.”
King George VI was born in 1895 and died in February 1952. His eldest daughter, Queen Elizabeth II, is the longest-reigning British monarch in history. Zimbabwe has been under European Union sanctions for close to two decades and this week, the United Kingdom said it was mulling a new sanctions regime against Mnangagwa’s government over human rights abuses. – News Day