By Sij Ncube
Harare, August 09, 2016 – THE United Kingdom has ruled out a $1,1 billion bailout for President Robert Mugabe’s government and instead warned recent incidents of human rights abuses in Zimbabwe could torpedo Harare’s re-engagement efforts with the international community.
Harare is presently grappling to secure outside funding to prop up an economy weighed down by decades of mismanagement.
The situation has been compounded by massive de-industrialisation which has seen the national cake shrink as desperate citizens resort to informal ways of survival.
As the situation gets dicey by the day, President Mugabe has turned to old allies in the UK for a financial bailout which saw finance minister Patrick Chinamasa fly to London last month while trying to negotiate lines of credit.
Zimbabwe’s colonial master has come under fire for allegedly ignoring gross rights violations and corruption under the Mugabe regime while granting audience to Harare which is seeking to unlock a 1, 1 billion pounds bailout.
Reports have been awash that former British business minister Peter Mendelsohn met Chinamasa in Harare five months ago before the investment bank where the Labour works sought to help the regime borrow $1,1 billion.
But Catriona Laing, the British ambassador to Zimbabwe who allegedly organised the controversial meeting has dismissed the reports of a clandestine bailout plan for beleaguered Mugabe regime saying more misunderstandings were circulating regarding the UK’S approach to Zimbabwe.
“There is no bail out,” Laing tweeted on Sunday, “Like all EU (European Union) (member states) we support international re-engagement if (there is) progress on human rights, rule of law.”
Instead, Laing said, recent human rights violations threatened the re-engagement efforts.
In recent weeks, Zimbabweans have taken to the streets in protest against general misrule and a harsh economic climate.
Police have been accused of brutalising peaceful demonstrators.
Last week, five journalists were battered by police in images which were captured on video.
Human rights defenders say more than 300 people have been arrested since Zimbabweans began their street protests some two months ago.
The British envoy also denied her country was funding a certain faction within Mugabe’s faction-riddled Zanu PF as was being alleged by the country’s opposition.
“We don’t keep any party in business and aren’t responsible how they behave. There is no bail out or UK money for government,” she said.
She was however quick to say the UK was disturbed by deterioration in human rights abuses, hinting it could scupper Harare’s re-engagement efforts with the international community, particularly the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
“Recently we see deterioration (in human rights). (It) will make it harder to get re-engagement international financial institutions.”
Political analyst, Ricky Mukonza, said it is politically damaging for the UK to be seen to be bailing out the Zimbabwe government.
“The Zimbabwe government is the same government which has been accused of gross human rights violations against its people and suffocating democracy. Bailing out this government will be tantamount to endorsing these internationally unacceptable practices.”