A veteran member of Parliament in the United Kingdom (UK), Sir Nicholas Soames, has referred to the Emmerson Mnangagwa-led government as a “gang of thugs”, saying the administration has been a grave disappointment to both countries.
His sentiments came after he, a member of Parliament for Mid Sussex, raised a question to the UK Foreign Secretary on their government’s policy on Zimbabwe during a House of Commons sitting Tuesday.
This exchange in the House of Commons is available in the UK Hansard, Volume. 661, Number 338 and Column 11.
Soames, who has served as MP since 1997, asked the foreign office, what assessment had been made of the UK’s diplomatic relations with Zimbabwe.
Minister for Africa, Andrew Stephenson, responded that UK was gravely concerned with the heavy-handed response to protests in Harare on 16 August, and the recent arrests and abductions of opposition figures.
“President Mnangagwa must hold to account those responsible for human rights violations. We have made our position clear to the Zimbabwe Government that UK support depends on fundamental political and economic reform. Zimbabwe must now translate its commitment into actions,” he said.
This prompted Soames to continue asking whether the foreign office agreed that: “President Mnangagwa and his administration have been a grave disappointment to this country and indeed to their own countrymen?”
He added: “Does he nevertheless also agree that the aid we give to Zimbabwe, particularly the DFID aid that goes into education, is absolutely vital and plays an extraordinarily good role in Zimbabwean education?
“Will he assure me that at the same time as keeping up the pressure on human rights and making absolutely clear our horror at the behaviour of President Mnangagwa and his gang of thugs, we will continue to support the education system in Zimbabwe?”
The Minister of Africa said the UK had provided £94 million of aid to Zimbabwe from 2018 to 2019 but none of that money is channeled through the government.
“I reiterate the point that the UK’s ongoing support through our DFID work depends on fundamental political and economic reform in Zimbabwe,” Stephenson said.
Part of the above exchange was also posted by Soames on his official twitter page: https://twitter.com/i/status/1168914529910165505
Meanwhile, Soames who is a grandson of Winston Churchill (UK Prime Minister from 1940 to 1945) was recently expelled (September 4) from the Conservative party with 20 others after they reportedly rebelled against the UK government in a bid to block a no-deal Brexit.
He told the House of Commons: ‘I am not standing at the next election and I am thus approaching the end of 37 years’ service to this house, of which I have been proud and honoured beyond words to be a member. ‘I am truly very sad that it should end in this way.’
No 10 (the Prime Minister’s office) had promised that any Conservatives also known as Tories who voted for the no deal Brexit would immediately lose the party whip and be barred from standing at the next election, which reports claimed it would happen.