The visit to Zimbabwe by Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has raised political friction between President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
Ahmadinejad arrived yesterday amid much criticism from Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change party.
The MDC-T said: “It is no secret that Ahmadinejad has perforated human rights credentials.
He has made his reputation as a war monger, a ‘trampler’ of human rights, an executioner of those with dissenting voices and a leader of questionable legitimacy due to his controversial electoral victory in last year’s Presidential election in June.”
“While Ahmadinejad will be wining and dining in our country, nine opposition activists in Iran will be facing death sentences for merely contesting the outcome of last year’s presidential polls.”
President Mugabe and Ahmadinejad enjoy cordial relations. Earlier this week, the Iranian leader sent an envoy to invite his Zimbabwean counterpart to a G-15 Summit in Teheran next month.
Ahmadinejad was expected to officially open the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair in Bulawayo today. His presence in the country has resulted in heightened security.
At the Rainbow Towers, where Ahmadinejad was scheduled to stay, there was a notable increase in police details dotted in and around the hotel.
Yesterday a helicopter was also hovering above the hotel.
But the visit has been met with criticism from the MDC-T, which said: “The unilateral decision by Zanu PF to invite the Iranian leader, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to officially open the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair is not only a colossal political scandal, but an insult to the peace-loving people of Zimbabwe and Iran.
“We want to place it on record that judging by his record, Ahmadinejad is coming not as a friend of Zimbabwe, but an ally of those that unilaterally invited him.
“The MDC condemns the scandalous invitation of Ahmadinejad. His visit will definitely send a wrong message about the kind of company that we keep at a time when the people of Africa and the rest of the world have begun to see us as a nation working hard to restore democracy and good governance.”
However, Zanu PF official Ambassador Chris Mutsvangwa described the MDC’s position as unfortunate and a danger to the Government of National Unity.
“That is very unfortunate. We do not expect the MDC to behave that way. We have diplomatic relations with Iran and we interact with that country as a bona fide member of the United Nations,” said Mutsvangwa.