MDC on diplomatic offensive as Tendai Biti meets UK Minister of State Harriet Baldwin
The opposition MDC party has embarked on a diplomatic charm offensive to force Zanu PF and President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government into talks, which the party says should help move the country forward.
Chamisa’s newly-elected deputy Tendai Biti is currently in the United Kingdom and yesterday met Minister of State Harriet Baldwin to discuss the current crisis the country is facing, including the way forward with Zimbabwe edging closer to the brink of civil unrest as the economy tanks.
On her official Twitter account, Baldwin confirmed meeting Biti, pledging that the UK would continue to engage and listen to both Chamisa and Mnangagwa until a solution is found for the Zimbabwean crisis.
“Good discussion with MDC vice-president Biti today on the current situation in Zimbabwe. We continue to listen to the views of Zimbabweans on all sides of the debate,” Baldwin tweeted after the meeting.
Chamisa’s spokesperson Nkululeko Sibanda said the meeting gave the MDC a chance to give its side of the story and how they see things unfolding if the issue is not handled.
“Honourable Tendai Biti met with the Honourable minister of African Affairs in the British government, MP Baldwin,” Sibanda said.
“They discussed a number of things, including the current socio-economic and political situation. The UK government had already put out an elaborate statement the day before that meeting about the human rights situation in Zimbabwe, indicating that it had worsened since 2016-17.
“So the UK government had already taken a position from its own research, that Zimbabwe is drifting and falling into the abyss of human rights abuses.”
Biti, according to Sibanda, said he was concerned about the human rights abuses in the country, which has seen the arrest and harassment of civil society members.
He said Biti emphasised the need for Zimbabwe to progress through the stabilisation of the economy and observing human rights.
Speaking at Chatham House in London, where he was launching his book Making Africa Awake, Biti said Zimbabwe was suffering from the crisis of legitimacy because the 2018 general elections were still contested.
“… the election of 2018 remains contested. The crisis of legitimacy remains at the fore of the crisis in Zimbabwe as I talk to you right now,” he said.
“Six months after the elections, we have a huge crisis; the crisis of legitimacy. We have a huge political crisis in which political space is being closed. As I speak to you right now, there are seven political activists that are languishing in prison.
“Their crime was to have a democracy meeting in Maldives. As I speak to you right now, leaders of civil society, including trade union leaders, are visited and harassed by State security agents.”
Biti said Zimbabwe was facing hyperinflation of over 300% owing to a serious dislocation of monetary policy, where the country was using four platforms of pricing systems, while salaries remained static.
Biti also added that there was a possibility that Mnangagwa could face an internal revolt as pressure mounts amid allegations of divisions in the regimes cockpit.