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British ambassador explores ways to normalise relations

Loughty Dube

THE British ambassador to Zimbabwe, Andrew Pocock, says he is quietly exploring whether there is any room for the normalisation of relations between Britain and Zimbabwe.

Addressing British citizens and civic leaders in Bulawayo this week, Poc

ock said for relations between Harare and the international community to normalise, the country should correct its policies first.

“What I am trying to do at the moment is to explore quietly whether there is room to improve relations with the Zimbabwe government and we are committed to normalising relations with Zimbabwe. That commitment will remain,” Pocock said.

The British envoy however said whether there were chances of normalising relations between the two countries or not, the Zimbabwean government needed to get its policies right. Writing in the latest edition of Britain and Zimbabwe, published by the British embassy, ahead of his visit to Bulawayo, Pocock said Zimbabwe was at a crossroads.

“If it continues to take its current course it will put itself beyond rescue,” he said. “But Zimbabwe has a choice. It can change track, change policies and give its people the life, prospects and future they deserve.”

But time was not on Zimbabwe’s side, he pointed out. Policy needed to evolve in a new direction. Only the Zimbabwe government could make the choice.

“It can be done,” Pocock said, “and is being done in other African countries.” He pointed to the success of Tanzania and Rwanda.

“Both are current examples of African countries demonstrating that it is possible to have economically sustainable, market-friendly policies, and to work in close and fruitful cooperation with international donors, while those policies remain wholly-owned and driven by African governments and their people,” the ambassador said.

“Sovereignty and cooperation are not mutually exclusive.”

On helping ordinary Zimbabweans, Pocock said the British government would this year avail £35 million for supporting orphans, food aid for three million Zimbabweans and to fund areas of HIV/Aids.

“During last year’s G-8 meeting in Gleneagles in Scotland a billion pound development aid facility for Africa was unveiled and it is sad that Zimbabwe at the moment is not eligible to access the funds,” Pocock said.

President Mugabe has said his government was prepared to build bridges with the British government. He challenged Pocock to visit the rest of the country to see “the real” situation in Zimbabwe.

“I took the challenge from President Mugabe to see the real Zimbabwe and that is why I am here in Bulawayo, to see the real Zimbabwe,” Pocock said.

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