ZANU PF’s Mzembi to be greeted by protesters at London talk

Zimbabwe’s Tourism Minister Walter Mzembi will be greeted by protesters when he arrives at a London based think-tank for a talk on Friday, amid criticism that his presence serves to ‘normalise’ the allegedly fraudulent elections in July.

Mzembi, who is also ZANU PF’s Masvingo South MP, is in London for the World Travel Market, an international travel and tourism event. He will be at Chatham House on Friday to discuss Zimbabwe's regional cooperation on tourism and investment, and to present his views on the investment climate back home.

The ZANU PF Minister has already indicated he hopes that ties between Zimbabwe and the UK can be renewed, telling the BBC that a new relationship could be forged “as long as the UK dispensed with its master-servant approach and recognised that the former colony was now an independent and equal partner.”

But his presence is not being welcomed by all, including activists with the London based Zimbabwe Vigil. Demonstrators from the group will be gathering at Chatham House on Friday to protest what they say is an attempt to normalise the situation in Zimbabwe, after the elections that saw ZANU PF resume power.

Vigil co-ordinator Rose Benton told SW Radio Africa that Mzembi is “presenting to the world the façade that everything is well in Zimbabwe” now that ZANU PF is back in power.

“Mzembi presents himself as the reasonable face of Mugabe’s ZANU PF mafia. But he cannot distance himself from the ruination that Mugabe has brought upon Zimbabwe,” Benton said.

She continued that the Minister should be addressing more serious issues before trying to bait tourists back to the country. Benton said he should be pressed to answer questions on issues like the rampant poaching of elephants in the country, deforestation and destructive mining practices.

Demonstrators will greet Mzembi and other visitors to the Chatham House event with posters asking questions like: ‘Who poisoned the elephants?’, ‘Who is destroying the forests?’ and ‘Who is stealing the diamonds?’

“We don’t want people to be taken in by Mzembi… what we want to do is be there and tell people that things still aren’t right in Zimbabwe. There is more starvation, deprivation and this movement to accept this government just shouldn’t happen,” Benton said.

She added: “Having him come here to a high profile venue does normalise this situation and makes it seem like he is a person that has a right to be heard and is genuine. I don’t think he’s genuine, the elections were totally fraudulent and none of these people should be allowed in.”

The protest will take place from 12pm until 1pm outside the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London on Friday. – SW Radio Africa News

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