President Emmerson Mnangagwa says he is eagerly waiting to meet British Prime minister Theresa May as he “believes” she will be as “good” as Margaret Thatcher was to Zimbabwe.
Mnangagwa was speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
The late Thatcher was the British PM when Zimbabwe got its independence in 1980 after the Lancaster House talks which she made sure led to the end of the “Rhodesian problem”.
Speaking in Switzerland on Thursday, Mnangagwa said, “I would like to meet with PM Theresa May. I believe she will be good to us. Margaret Thatcher was good to us. All the male prime ministers have not been good to us.”
According to the Telegraph newspaper, “although the comment was made in jest, it marked a clear intention to improve relations between London and Harare, which suffered severely under Mugabe’s rule.”
Mugabe so enjoyed a good relationship with Thatcher during his earlier years in power that he rebuked his minister for celebrating her fall from power in 1980, the report said.
However, Mugabe was to fall out with the labour leader Tony Blair who refused to continue giving Harare money for the land reform. Mugabe was to later pull Zimbabwe out of the Commonwealth at the height of the clashes with London.
However, in some parts of Zimbabwe Thatcher is hated. When she died in 2013 Zapu leader, Dumiso Dabengwa, said while she had brought about Zimbabwe’s independence she was directly responsible for the 1980’s Gukurahundi genocide which claimed the lives on 20 000 civilians in Matebeleland and Midlands.
Mnangagwa was the minister of intelligence at the time.
The new president, who deposed his mentor Mugabe with the help of the military two months ago, has said he viewed Britain’s departure from the EU as an opportunity as “what they’ve lost with Brexit they can come and recover from Zimbabwe.”
“When we have engagement, they [Britain] want to raise the issue about us joining the Commonwealth. I said I’ll be happy to deal with that . . . I personally have nothing against the Commonwealth club,” he said in a recent interview with the Financial Times.
Meanwhile, Mnangagwa on Thursday met IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde on the side-lines of the on-going World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
A statement from the IMF said Lagarde welcomed Mnangagwa’s commitment to stabilize the economy and work towards normalizing Zimbabwe’s engagement with the international community.
“She reiterated the IMF’s commitment to continue to support Zimbabwe as it addresses its economic challenges,” the IMF said.
The IMF has not been lending to Zimbabwe since 2000 when the country started defaulting on loan repaymentt