Zimbabwe has formally protested to the British government after foreign minister Sibusiso Moyo was confronted by angry exiles and sprayed with water in London.
Moyo and his delegation were coming out of a Global Conference for Media Freedom co-ordinated by the British government on July 12 when they met by angry protesters shouting, “Thieves!”
Zimbabwe’s foreign ministry says it summoned Giles Enticknap, the Charge de Affairs of the United Kingdom, Great Britain and Northern Ireland and accused Britain of failing to provide sufficient security.
“As organisers of the event, it was incumbent upon the government of the United Kingdom to assess the threat level for all dignitaries and to provide undercover security details to protect Honourable Minister Moyo in the event of any unforeseen security situations arising,” foreign ministry acting secretary Pavelyn Musaka said.
Saying that Zimbabwe “respects the rights to freedom and the rights of its citizens to demonstrate peacefully as part of the democratic process”, Musaka said they “objected to the assaults on Minister Moyo as head of the Zimbabwean delegation.”
She added: “The ministry therefore calls for the government of the United Kingdom to take all measures necessary to bring the perpetrators of the violence against the minister to book for their actions.”
The Zimbabweans have not described the nature of the alleged assault on Moyo.
Moyo and information ministry secretary Ndavaningi Mangwana were leaving Chatham House in London when they were attacked.
One of Moyo’s bodyguards appeared to forcefully shove a female protester in the face – incensing the others who pushed and shoved the Zimbabwe officials. A female protester was seen on video splashing water over the officials.
Moyo and Mangwana were bundled into a waiting BMW which sped off, leaving behind the security aide accused of roughing-up a woman protester. The aide was harassed by the protesters who kept pulling him and yelling at him.
Not since gay rights activist Peter Tatchell tried to effect a citizen’s arrest on President Robert Mugabe in Belgium in 2001 has there been such a physical confrontation of Zimbabwean officials outside the country.
It is the first ever incident of Zimbabwean exiles physically confronting their government officials in a foreign country.