BRITISH Prime Minister Tony Blair this week put paid to any hope for dialogue between Zimbabwe and Britain when he launched a strongly-worded attack on President Robert Mugabe, calling his regime a “disgrace” that had brought the country to its knees.
“What the regime is doing in Zimbabwe is a disgrace,” Blair told parliament in his weekly question-and-answer session when asked why Western governments appeared powerless to prevent a “human tragedy” in the southern African country.
“There are people suffering there in a country that is potentially wealthy,” the prime minister said.
“We have ourselves as a nation actually given humanitarian assistance to people and food-aid assistance in circumstances where, if the country were properly run, the people could be looked after there and looked after properly.”
Receiving the credentials of new British envoy to Zimbabwe, Andrew Pocock, in February, Mugabe spoke of building bridges between Zimbabwe and Britain.
In parliament on Wednesday Blair said Britain was right to continue to exert diplomatic pressure on Harare, but he also acknowledged that finding a lasting, effective solution was more difficult.
“The only issue is what we can do about it, and what we are doing from this country is our very best to try and get the right diplomatic pressure on the Zimbabwean regime to change, but there is, I am afraid, a limit to what we can do,” he added.
“But my belief in this is that while Zimbabwe remains as it is, it casts a shadow over that whole part of southern Africa and it is a tragedy for the people concerned.”
Zimbabwe’s relations with Britain have been strained over the past seven years after Mugabe launched sweeping land reforms that saw the government seizing properties from white commercial farmers, mostly of British descent.
Mugabe has accused Blair of harbouring plans to “recolonise” Zimbabwe — which as Rhodesia was a British colony until 1980 — by using the opposition Movement for Democratic Change as a front. — AP/Staff Writer.