Government has described as regrettable and unfortunate remarks by United Kingdom lawmaker Lord Adrian Palmer calling for Britain’s recolonisation of Zimbabwe on the pretext of safeguarding the lives of its citizens following last week’s violent demonstrations orchestrated by MDC-Alliance and its affiliates.
The demonstrations, which left six people dead and property worth millions of dollars destroyed, have seen more than 1 000 people being arrested.
Speaking in the British House of Lords, on Tuesday, independent cross-bench peer Lord Palmer asked, “Has the minister even considered the idea of recolonising Zimbabwe? It is tragic to see what is going on.”
Responding to the suggestion, British Foreign Office Minister Lord Ahmad said he had not considered that option.
Another British lawmaker Lord Hayward added that Zimbabwe should not be readmitted into the Commonwealth because of last week’s disturbances, drawing a reminder from Harare that the rekindled relations were not one way as Britain also stood to benefit from re-engagement.
The remarks torched a storm and the Government of Zimbabwe was clearly unhappy.
Yesterday, Government spokesperson, Mr Nick Mangwana — who is also the Secretary for Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services — decried the hankering after colonialism, a practice that, along with slavery has been outlawed in modern convention.
“The suggestion by Lord Adrian Palmer in the House of Lords in Britain for the British Government to consider the idea of recolonising Zimbabwe in order to deal with the violent disturbances wrought by the position is both regrettable and quite unfortunate in the 21st century,” said Mr Mangwana.
He said colonisation was equal to slavery.
“Colonisation, like its cousin, slavery were a blot on humanity and epitomise all that is wrong about humanity. Zimbabwe fought a protracted war of liberation to free itself from the albatross of colonialism. Life and limb was lost,” said Mr Mangwana.
He said it was sad that an esteemed member of the House of Lords can make such a bigoted and out of touch suggestion, especially at a time when Zimbabwe was doing its best in efforts to be a fully-fledged member of the Community of Nations after a protracted bilateral tiff between Britain and Zimbabwe, which was franchised internationally.
Mr Mangwana said the violent nature of colonisation, and its attendant discriminatory vices, has no place in a modern, globalised world where Zimbabwe enjoys cordial, respectful relations with its erstwhile coloniser, Britain a relationship that is based on mutual respect.
He said the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) both affirm the right to self-determination.
“Colonialism was formally delegitimised as an acceptable international practice, as per the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and peoples (General Assembly Resolution 1514) in 1960. In October 1970, the UN General Assembly Resolution 2621 (XXV) declared that the further continuation of colonialism in all its forms and manifestations is a crime. So, for anyone to insult the victims of that barbaric inhumanity by suggesting that it is what Zimbabwe needs in the 21st Century, is not only dinosaurian, but ignorant and patronising,” he said.
“The utterances unnecessarily re-open wounds that are always difficult to heal. Supremacist politics has no place in modern day international relations. All countries relate on an equal footing in their national interest. Any interaction thereof is premised on mutual respect for each other’s sovereign right. Harare and London are enjoying a new lease of life under the New Dispensation, following the frosty relations that characterised the relationship between the two countries between 2001 and 2017.”
Mr Mangwana said Britain and Zimbabwe enjoy a relationship based on both mutual respect and mutual interests and if there were any issues of concern between the two countries, respectful communication was preferred not the patronising “headmaster child” megaphone conversation of old.
Deputy Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Mr George Charamba poured scorn on the nostalgia about the defunct British Empire.
“They know that it is not possible, they know we will not accept that therefore, they know they are saying something that is not practical,” he said.
“Fortunately it remains a thought and a nostalgia which doesn’t hurt anybody. Thank God the British Government discounted it off hand so it really doesn’t matter. In any case we don’t look to a Lord for the British policy we look to pronouncements from the British Government.”
On the prospects of Zimbabwe rejoining the Commonwealth, Mr Charamba said Zimbabwe was not dying to join the bloc but was doing it as part of is re-engagement drive.
“The sentiments on prospects of Zimbabwe rejoining the Commonwealth overlook a very basic fact namely that it is the British Government which wanted Zimbabwe back into the Commonwealth. We related positively to that indication because it coincided with our policy of re-engagement. If there is a second thought on the matter so be it.”
He said Britain would also benefit if Zimbabwe was to rejoin the Commonwealth.
“It takes two to tango. There is much to be got from the British Government by a Zimbabwe that rejoins the Commonwealth as there is from Zimbabwe which rejoins the Commonwealth. It’s a two way process and no one should ever labour under the illusion that Zimbabwe is dying to rejoin the Commonwealth. We are doing so as part of our reengagement with the world for mutual gain not for one sided gain,” Mr Charamba said.