Zimbabwe foreign affairs minister ‘attacked’ in London
London, July 13, 2019 (AltAfrica) -Zimbabwe’s foreign affairs minister, Sibusiso Moyo, was attacked outside the Royal Institute of International Affairs, commonly known as Chatham House, in London on Friday.
Moyo is in England leading a Zimbabwean delegation on a four-day re-engagement programme to strengthen bilateral relations and to woo investment for Zimbabwe. His visit comes at a time when Zimbabwe is also seeking readmission to the Commonwealth.
When he left Chatham House in the afternoon, irate protesters, demanding the release of Movement for Democratic Change vice chairperson Job Sikhala facing charges of subversion and other MDC activists, pushed and shoved some of the state officials before one of them splashed water on Moyo, who jumped into a Zimbabwe Embassy vehicle before it sped off.
A man identified as a security detail was also seen in a video that has gone viral brawling with the protestors singing revolutionary songs and demanding the release of Sikhala.
Panyika Karimanzira of Restoration of Human Rights Zimbabwe said the protesters, including women, reacted angrily after they were allegedly provoked by Moyo’s security details.
“One of the security details sparked the whole thing. People were provoked resulting in a conflict with Zimbabwean state officials,” said Karimanzira.
In a statement, the secretary for Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Nick Mangwana, blasted the protesters.
“Government condemns the violent attacks against the delegation by a group of opposition protesters outside Chatham House in London. It is tragic that the scepter of violence during protests, witnessed in Zimbabwe, which forces 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.
One of the protesters managed to spray the minister with water from a bottle as he attempted to get into his designated vehicle. At that point, the minister was whisked away in another vehicle.
A Zimbabwean academic based in London, Dr Admore Tshuma, said the protesters were MDC Alliance supporters, and called for the Zimbabwean embassy in London to do something about the embarrassing incident.
“Foreign affairs minister Moyo being attacked by MDC supporters in London today. This must be condemned. The Zimbabwe embassy must get the perpetrators arrested. The UK is a democracy with law and order no matter what,” he said.
Another Zimbabwean in London, Patricia Chinyoka, said the minister’s security team almost hurt two women but they were saved by other protesters who came to their rescue. “It’s very sad indeed to note that Moyo’s security man lashed out at two female protesters. He could’ve hurt them very badly if others hadn’t come to their aid,” she said.
Moyo arrived in London at a time when there is growing disgruntlement back home about the economy. However, the retired army lieutenant-general, who announced the November 2017 coup and is also a trained diplomat, told the meeting that Zimbabwe needed to work with Britain to improve its former colony’s prospects.
“We agreed at the time that Zimbabwe and the UK must be partners in unlocking whatever perception of Zimbabwe the Americans had. The reforms we are undertaking are for the benefit of our people. Sanctions are outdated and don’t serve either Zimbabwe or the US,” he said at a meeting with potential business investors from Britain.