No reforms, no funding: UK ambassador tells Mugabe

British ambassador to Zimbabwe Catriona Laing yesterday said her government will not directly fund President Robert Mugabe’s government until it addresses issues like good governance, police brutality and respect of court orders.

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Laing said this in response to media reports that the British government was shoring up the Mugabe regime despite its rhetoric.

“No United Kingdom taxpayers’ money has been or will be used to fund the government of Zimbabwe. Any decision on future UK support for a multi-year International Monetray Fund programme will be based on the considerations described above,” Laing said.

She added that while economic reforms were necessary, they were not sufficient in themselves to normalise relations.

“The government of Zimbabwe is responsible for upholding the rule of law and human rights, as defined both by the Zimbabwean Constitution and Zimbabwe’s obligations as a member of the international community,” Laing added.

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“In their submissions at Lima and Lusaka, the government of Zimbabwe has reiterated its commitment to this task. Nevertheless, in recent weeks we have seen the emergence of concerning videos of police brutality, and attacks by the government on apparently peaceful social media-based movements. When combined with the ongoing failure of the police to enforce court orders around illegal land invasions, this paints a worrying picture.”

The ambassador also highlighted that the UK since 2010 had continued to support humanitarian causes in Zimbabwe.

Among other responses, the British said they supported 360 000 vulnerable people with cash transfers following the El Niño-induced drought, helped reduce maternal deaths from 960 per 100 000 in 2010 to 651 per 100 000 in 2015 and delivered school improvement grants to over 6 000 schools in 2015.

Laing also said the British Embassy in Harare would continue to meet with members of the executive, legislature, judiciary and civil society, from across the political spectrum and the meetings did not imply agreement with any particular policy position.