BRITAIN’S ambassador to Zimbabwe has voiced grave disapproval of President Robert Mugabe’s economic policies, saying the country was at a crossroads and needed a radical policy shift to rescue it from a six-year recession.
stify>”If it (Zimbabwe) continues to take its current course, it will put itself beyond rescue,” Ambassador Andrew Pocock warned in an article published in the British Embassy’s latest quarterly journal, Britain and Zimbabwe, the first since he arrived in the country in February.
“But Zimbabwe has a choice; it can change track, change policies and give its people the life, prospects and future they deserve,” Pocock said.
Zimbabwe has withered under a six-year economic crisis critics blame on mismanagement by Mugabe’s government, in power since Independence from Britain in 1980.
Mugabe blames the economic recession on what he describes as “machinations” by imperialist Europe abetting Britain’s scores against his regime for expropriating white-owned farmland for redistribution to landless blacks.
Various audits of the land reform have revealed gross abuse by ruling party and government chiefs and their cronies who have emerged as the biggest beneficiaries of huge tracts of land parcelled out under the agrarian reforms.
Most of them took over fields ready for harvesting, selling farm yields and making huge sums of money but later leaving the farms lying derelict.
Hundreds of Zimbabweans have fled mainly to Britain and South Africa to seek economic opportunities and escape the crisis, characterised by run-away inflation and food, fuel and foreign currency shortages.
“Policy in Zimbabwe needs to evolve in a new direction for the people and the future of Zimbabwe, and because it is the right thing to do,” said Pocock, discounting government allegations of a British conspiracy to unseat Mugabe by instigating the crisis.
“Let us be clear: only the Zimbabwean government can make this choice. It can be done and is being done in other African countries which have faced recent difficulties,” said Pocock.
He said countries like Rwanda and Tanzania were demonstrating that it is possible to have economically sustainable, market-friendly policies while working closely with international donors.
“Sovereignty and co-operation are not mutually exclusive,” said Pocock, making a veiled criticism of government’s constant refusal to budge in response to international censure of its policies under the claim of sovereignty. — Staff Writer.