Zimbabweans criticise ‘neocolonial’ monarchy as controversial president invited to King’s coronation

Emmerson Mnangagwa is allegedly responsible for gross human rights violations in Zimbabwe (Photo: Jekesai Njikizana/AFP)
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MUTARE – Zimbabweans have accused the British monarchy of hiding behind a donor government, while perpetuating neocolonialism and imperialism, after a controversial coronation invitation for the country’s president.

Emmerson Mnangagwa is allegedly responsible for gross human rights violations in Zimbabwe.

British MPs said in a letter to James Cleverly, the Foreign Secretary, that the invitation looked like “tacit acceptance by the UK of publicly evidenced political violence and repression in the run up to the forthcoming election”.

The letter said the invitation would be deeply demoralising to ordinary Zimbabweans in their struggle for democracy.

Linda Masarira, president of the Labour Economists and African Democrats (Lead) party, claimed the royals were hiding behind a donor government.

“Zimbabwe, like many other African sovereign states, has been reduced to mere ‘flag independence’ by external policy interference and economic control,” she said.

“The House of Lords and House of Commons in the UK cannot even see the speck in the eye of their country, they are always quick to criticise how Zimbabwe runs its own internal affairs. Is the UK’s so-called constitutional monarchy democratic?”

Mr Mnangagwa took power through a military coup in November 2017, and his rule has been marred by massive corruption, gross human rights violations and the use of lawfare to silence dissenters like opposition leader Job Sikhala, who has been locked up for almost a year.

“We would have preferred that [the invitation] was not given,” says Chief Nhlanhlayamangwe Felix Ndiweni, a Ndebele traditional leader who was dethroned by the government for criticising Zanu PF and is now living in the UK.

Mr Mnangagwa will be the first Zimbabwean leader to visit London in more than two decades after relations between London and Harare went frosty in the early 2000s when then President Robert Mugabe implemented the violent Land Reform Programme, which saw black people taking back their land from white minority farmers.

The UK and its allies later imposed sanctions on Harare over alleged human rights violations, electoral fraud and corruption.

King Charles III, then Prince of Wales and heir apparent to the throne, hoisted the first Zimbabwe flag after the lowering of the Union Jack when Zimbabwe gained independence from Britain in 1980.

The Foreign Office told i: “Invitations were issued to the heads of state plus one of nations with whom the UK has full diplomatic relations.

“Nearly 200 nations, realms, territories, and Commonwealth countries are expected to be represented at the Coronation, with over 450 overseas dignitaries likely to attend.

“The UK regularly raises concerns over human rights and the need for political reform with President Mnangagwa.”

Zimbabweans have been calling for the UK to return its liberation heroes’ bones, with pressure group Bring Back Our Bones leading the campaign on Twitter.

It is believed that the remains of liberation icon Mbuya (Grandmother) Nehanda and of other Shona spirit mediums are in the United Kingdom after their skulls were taken as trophies by white colonialists.

A powerful and respected ancestral spirit, Nehanda was born in 1840 and led revolts in 1896 in the First Chimurenga (Uprising) against the British South Africa Company’s colonisation of Zimbabwe led by Cecil John Rhodes in 1889.

Nehanda died in 1898 by hanging after she was charged with murdering a white person. In the 60s and 70s, she became an inspiration in the liberation struggle against the colonial regime.

Last year, Zimbabwe sent a delegation to the UK in preparation to repatriate some of the bones and looted artefacts.

The bones and heads of the spiritual leaders that were killed during the colonial era should be returned to Zimbabwe and buried by their families in Zimbabwe, said Lead president Ms Masarira.

“Our decapitated ancestors have a very real degree of agency from beyond the grave. We can’t have our own ancestors displayed in a British museum as trophies,” she told i.

“It is inhuman and derogatory.”

She reiterated calls by Zimbabweans to exhume Rhodes’s remains, which are buried in Matobo, about 37 kilometres from Zimbabwe’s second-largest city of Bulawayo.

“Rhodes’ remains should be removed from Matobo and sent to the UK or burnt to ashes,” she said. “We cannot continue revering men who destroyed our culture, desecrated our identity, and inflicted so much pain on native Africans who resided in now modern-day Zimbabwe.”

Source: iNews