News article

A statement on United Kingdom's support to the people of Zimbabwe

Ambassador Catriona Laing has released a statement on United Kingdom's commitment to supporting the people of Zimbabwe to achieve a peaceful, prosperous and democratic future.

The United Kingdom made a manifesto commitment in 2015 to stand up for human rights and the rule of law in Zimbabwe.

In practical terms this has led us to:

  • Support 360,000 vulnerable people with cash transfers following the El Niño induced drought
  • Help reduce maternal deaths from 960 per 100,000 in 2010 to 651 per 100,000 in 2015
  • Deliver school improvement grants to over 6,000 schools in 2015

It means that we continue to invest in civil society programmes that aim to improve transparency, advocacy and human rights. It means that Zimbabwe remains one of the 30 UK Human Rights Priority Countries, where we monitor and report regularly on Human Rights abuses, and support programmes designed to make abuses less likely. And it means engaging in meaningful political dialogue with the incumbent government in order to encourage policy which is consistent with these goals.

The economic challenges that now face Zimbabwe are both significant and urgent. As we have said repeatedly, it is vital that necessary economic reforms are driven forward with determination, taking into account the advice of the international financial institutions in order to prevent the population of Zimbabwe suffering severe levels of hardship. This requires difficult decisions to be made and a demonstrable commitment to implementation from the government of Zimbabwe.

As we have repeatedly stated, economic reforms, whilst necessary, are not in themselves sufficient. The government of Zimbabwe is responsible for upholding the rule of law and human rights, as defined both by the Zimbabwean constitution and Zimbabwe’s obligations as a member of the international community. In their submissions at Lima and Lusaka, the government of Zimbabwe has reiterated its commitment to this task.

Nevertheless, in recent weeks we have seen the emergence of concerning videos of police brutality, and attacks by the government on apparently peaceful social media based movements. When combined with the ongoing failure of the police to enforce court orders around illegal land invasions, this paints a worrying picture.

The UK continues to reiterate to the government of Zimbabwe the importance of substantial improvement in these areas. We look forward to hearing how the government intends to address these issues, and to deliver positive outcomes for the people of Zimbabwe.

No UK taxpayers money has been or will be used to directly fund the government of Zimbabwe. Any decision on future UK support for a multi-year IMF programme will be based on the considerations described above.

The British Embassy in Harare will continue to meet with members of the executive, legislature, judiciary and civil society, from across the political spectrum. Meetings do not imply agreement with any particular policy position. The UK does not have a vote in any future Zimbabwean election.

Accordingly we do not and will not support any particular candidate, faction or party. We will however continue to encourage Zimbabweans of all political persuasions to exercise their democratic rights, under the protection of the 2013 Constitution and international human rights law.