The Zimbabwe government received a rap on the knuckles from Western diplomats on Friday over its handling of the country’s deteriorating political and economic crisis.In a joint statement, the heads of mission of Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, the United Kingdom and the United States criticised the Harare authorities for allegedly using COVID-19 pandemic “as an excuse to restrict citizens’ fundamental freedoms.”
“We hope this government is able to deliver on its initial vision and live up to the commitments it made when it came to power,” the diplomats said.
In his inaugural speech in November 2017, President Emmerson Mnangagwa endeared himself to Zimbabweans and the West when he vowed to move away from policies of his predecessor Robert Mugabe by serving the country and all of its people.
The Zimbabwean leader has over the past two years been criticised for his government’s handling of dissenting voices and the economy.
He has recently come under fire over the arrest of investigative journalist Hopewell Chin’ono who has been exposing top-level corruption allegedly involving the president’s family and close associates.
Chin’ono has languished in remand prison since being arrested last month for allegedly attempting to overthrow a constitutionally elected government.
The diplomats said the Zimbabwe government “has a responsibility to investigate and prosecute those responsible for violating human rights.”
“The heads of mission further reiterate their calls for the government to address corruption and the illicit extraction of Zimbabwe’s wealth for personal gain, which continue to undermine Zimbabwe’s development and the well-being of its people,” the statement said.