Zimbabwe government rubbishes call by British MP and MDC supporter for Chiwenga removal

Kate Hoey

THE government has played down a call by an influential British legislator for President Emmerson Mnangagwa to fire his deputy and former defence forces chief Constantino Chiwenga.

The vice president led the military coup which ousted long-time ruler Robert Mugabe last November, resulting in Mnangagwa succeeding the nonagenarian.

Chiwenga has also been targeted for blame after the military shot at opposition protestors following the July 30 elections resulting in the death of six people with several others injured.

Labour MP Kate Hoey, who also chairs the UK’s All-Party Parliamentary Group on Zimbabwe, said Chiwenga go, failing which there should be no change the West’s policy on Harare.

“There should be no change to @P_VanDamme_EU or @UKinZimbabwe or American government policies to Zimbabwe government until at the very minimum Chiwenga is removed from his Vice Presidency and his control of the military ,” Hoey said on Twitter last week.

The UK government has also expressed deep concern over the post-election violence with Minister of State for Africa, Harriett Baldwin, describing as “disproportionate” the “response from the security forces”.

Responding to Hoey, foreign affairs minister Sibusiso Moyo said Sunday that the labour MP remarks do not represent the position of the British government.

“Kate is a member of parliament in Britain and she has her liberty and freedom of expression, but that does not mean that is the official position of Britain,” he said.

Moyo was addressing journalists on the US decision to extend its sanctions against Zimbabwe.

He added; “Hoey has been here after President Mnangagwa invited her.

“Instructions from outside do not represent or drive correct position of what Zimbabwe is. We can solve our own problems and move forward.

“What-ever perception she reflected in her message, that does not necessarily represent our position here.

“We still consider Britain as a strategic partner which requires that both of us should iron out issues.”

The Mnangagwa government has repeatedly touted its efforts to re-engage the international community after years of frosty relations under former president Mugabe.

The successor administration is concerned that the deadly post-election violence, widely condemned in western capitals, might derail that re-engagement effort.