You have to hand it to Mugabe: he is good at making friends. It must be the ‘charm’ noted breathlessly by British Ambassador Deborah Bronnert. No sooner does Mugabe lose his number one bootlicker, Mutharika of Malawi, than he pulls another out of his other boot: Michael Sata of Zambia who, as a former platform sweeper at London’s Victoria Station, is even better equipped.
It may be we have to hand it to Sata – in the form of a pouch of ‘grubby stones’ such as given by Liberian butcher Taylor to the bejewelled model Naomi Campbell. After all, Mutharika was given a stolen Zimbabwean farm.
But perhaps the Vigil is being unkind to Sata. It might not have been necessary to buy him. He could – let’s be fair – just be stupid. One way or another, how else do you account for his comments during his visit to Zimbabwe to open the wildly successful trade fair in Bulawayo (the majority of stands taken by the Chinese and many of the others by bankrupt parastatals with nothing to offer, such as Air Zimbabwe)?
For us at the Vigil Mr Sata’s bizarre pro-Mugabe comments raise a number of important points: what are the MDC and the British government doing about it? For the MDC’s part, it appears that Tsvangirai has protested by boycotting Sata’s visit. But what purpose does this serve? Wouldn’t a confrontation have been better?
Whatever the MDC’s strategy, the Vigil believes that the government here in Britain should not let pass Sata’s gross interference in Zimbabwe’s domestic affairs. Mr Sata complains about sanctions on Zimbabwe: what is the High Commissioner in Lusaka doing?
Eventually the British government was provoked into suspending the aid that kept Mutharika’s economy going. The Vigil believes that Britain should now take a close look at its priorities in Zambia. We suggest some of the huge aid package given annually to Zambia should be diverted to the undoubtedly daunting task of educating Sata.