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Zimbabwe's ZANU-PF Sees Opportunity in Installation of Conservative-Led UK Gov't

  • Gibbs Dube

Political sources say some ZANU-PF officials believe a Conservative government will be more receptive than its Labor predecessor to the argument, long advanced by President Mugabe, that Britain reneged on a pledge to support land reform

Some top officials of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party believe the arrival of U.K. Conservative David Cameron at No. 10 Downing Street presents an opportunity for bilateral re-engagement.

Political sources say some ZANU-PF officials believe a Conservative government will be more receptive than its Labor predecessor to the argument often advanced by Mr. Mugabe that the British government failed to keep a pledge made during the pre-independence 1979 Lancaster House talks to provide financial support for land reform.

But political commentator George Mkhwanazi said ZANU-PF should not start celebrating the Conservative takeover in London as the Tories are unlikely to a sharp turn where Britain's Zimbabwe policy is concerned.

There have been many conflicting reports as to a secret deal sealed between Mr. Mugabe's liberation movement and others and the Conservative government then led by Margaret Thatcher as to support for land reform.

In March, members of Britain's All-Party Parliamentary Group released a report concluding that contrary to claims by ZANU-PF, the British government never entered any such secret agreements on land reform.

Between 1980 and 1989, Britain provided 47 million pounds sterling to fund land reform program under which the new government in Harare was given first priority to purchase all farms sold by commercial farmers.

But Britain pulled the plug on the program charging misuse of funds by Zimbabwean officials. President Mugabe has long charged that Britain reneged on its commitments, and targeted Harare for aggressively pursuing land reform.

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