BY OBEY MANAYITI
FOREIGN Affairs minister Sibusiso Moyo and his high-powered delegation were yesterday humiliated in the United Kingdom after angry protesters attacked them for “crippling” the country.
Moyo, who was in the company of Information permanent secretary Nick Mangwana and other officials, were seen scurrying into their vehicle as the protesters, some donning Zimbabwean flags, hurled insults and pelted them with various items while others sprayed water.
The visibly-shaken delegation, which has been painting a rosy picture Zimbabwe under of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration at every opportunity in
the UK, was coming out of Chatham House, where Moyo gave a presentation.
In videos circulating on social media, the protesters could be heard shouting “mbavha! mbavha!” (thieves!) and other obscenities at the delegation until Moyo’s
vehicle sped off.
An aide, who was left behind, was physically assaulted by some of the protesters until he jumped into the second car, which also sped off.
Earlier, the protesters gathered at Chatham House and demanded that Moyo and his delegation, who also attended the Global Conference for Media Freedom during the week, must stop lying and that they must leave the country.
The UK is home to many Zimbabweans who fled State-sponsored terror and a failing economy since the turn of the millennium.
Yesterday’s public embarrassment came after Moyo said Zimbabwe was in full reform mode.
“Zimbabwe certainly faces some of the biggest challenges on the continent,” Moyo said while making a presentation at the Westminster African Business Group in
London on Thursday.
“These challenges are historical in nature, stemming from a two-decades old economic and political crisis. The land reform process we undertook, along with a
protectionist, and even isolationist approach to our foreign policy, also created perceptions of Zimbabwe as a risky investment destination in which
investments were not safe and could be expropriated at any time.”
He added: “We are correcting these mistakes. What encourages us as a new dispensation is that we are aware of these challenges, and we have a plan to overcome
Yesterday, at Chatham House before the attack, Moyo acknowledged the demonstrators during his presentation, ostensibly unaware what awaited him after finishing
off his address.
“Let me acknowledge as well those who are demonstrating outside this building.
“We may disagree — and Zimbabweans, like any group of people who do not think alike, will always disagree, in fact, they say if you have three Zimbabweans in a
room, they will form five different political parties — but if we can disagree peacefully, respecting the rights of each other, we will find ourselves on a
sure path to a diverse and inclusive democracy.”
In his address, Moyo also spoke glowingly of the new dispensation and its desire to re-engage, currency reforms, constitutional and legislative reforms, among
“Turning to constitutional and legislative reforms, which are referred to by the shorthand of political reforms, I am pleased to say that good progress is
being made on the process of aligning our just over 400 statutes with the 2013 Constitution,” he said, while giving a raft of Bills that are being put forward.
Mangwana downplayed the attack, describing the demonstrators as opposition members.
“The delegation in London had great engagements with different stakeholders. The Government of Zimbabwe condemns the violent attacks against the delegation by
a group of opposition protesters outside Chatham House in London,” he said later.
“It’s tragic that the sceptre of violence during protests we see in Zimbabwe, forcing the security services to act, has reared its ugly head in foreign land,
discrediting not the government, but the hoodlums themselves and embarrassing peace-loving Zimbabweans.”
Mangwana said the attacks had not, however, disrupted Moyo’s “successful” engagements in the UK, in any way.
“Undeterred, his programme continued with fruitful meetings with the secretary-general of the Commonwealth, investors and tonight, we end with engaging a
progressive Zimbabwean diaspora and other key stakeholders, whose support for our country’s economic and political reform efforts remain steadfast,” he said.
“The Government of Zimbabwe remains committed to peaceful dialogue with all parties, with a view to building our country around shared values, including the
principles of respectful disagreement and non-violence. We affirm the right of Zimbabweans to protest, but to do so peacefully.”