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Tense Relations Continue as British Ambassador Meets Zimbabwe VP Mphoko

President Robert Mugabe with his two deputies, Phelekezela Mphoko (L) and Emmerson Mnangagwa (R). Collage by Ntungamili Nkomo

The British Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Catriona Laing, on Wednesday held a private meeting with Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko.

Catriona presented her credentials to President Robert Mugabe at state house recently.

Relations between Zimbabwe and the United Kingdom have for more than a decade been frosty following Harare’s decision to confiscate farms from white commercial farmers with London also charging that President Mugabe’s government was allegedly rigging polls.

Catriona told Mr. Mugabe the two countries should work on improving their relations.

A statement from the embassy said the UK is already undertaking important confidence building measures and if reciprocated on the Zimbabwe side.

Other important first steps that the UK has taken include: trebling the number of Chevening Scholarships to be awarded to Zimbabweans in the next academic year, fostering cultural and education links through the British Council, and the continuation of UK’s developmental support to Zimbabwe valued at $117 million being channeled through the Department for International Development to reach millions of Zimbabweans, particularly women and children.

Mphoko confirmed the meeting to Studio 7. Independent political analyst Clifford Mashiri described the Zimbabwe-UK relations as “lukewarm”.