OUTGOING British ambassador to Zimbabwe Catriona Laing Thursday finally admitted Zimbabwe’s electoral process was not too fair after all, as she bade farewell to acting President Kembo Mohadi at Munhumutapa Building.
Laing has infuriated the opposition with claims the controversial diplomat was too embedded with the Mnangagwa administration to a point of being blind to government’s excesses.
On Thursday, she inadvertently revealed her thoughts about the July 30 election, telling journalists soon after meeting Mohadi that the election that ushered in Mnangagwa as the country’s second ever elected leader were not level.
“This is my final departure call and I am happy to say we had a useful discussion reflecting on the last four years and changes that we have seen; many positive changes but, still some huge challenges ahead,” said Laing.
“We talked about the elections and the positive steps around peaceful elections and very high turnout but, also some concerns that the playing field was not completely level,” said Laing.
Harare’s diplomatic fall-out with London was triggered by the former’s tough decision nearly two decades ago to grab tracts of farmland from white Zimbabweans mostly of British descent.
The former colonial master has also rowed with Zimbabwe over alleged poll theft by the Robert Mugabe administration.
Relations have seemingly thawed in the past couple of years when Britain was seen as backing Zimbabwean efforts to re-access loans from the IMF with London seen as abandoning its aggressive stance pursued by former Prime Minister Tony Blair towards Mugabe’s administration.
The just ended elections that have been disputed by Zimbabwe’s opposition have left Britain with the invidious choice of lowering the bar and continuing with its reengagement stance towards Harare or keep its distance.
However, Laing’s comments could be the closest window London may not be too keen on a speedy re-engagement process with Harare following issues to do with Mnangagwa’s disputed legitimacy.
Laing continued, “The fact that the opposition has not yet accepted the result creates a lot of challenges for Zimbabwe in terms of the coming together as a country and moving forward together and I have urged the (Vice) President to try and make sure that everyone’s voice is heard here in Zimbabwe. He has a very important role to play as a member of National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC).”