MP Soames: Mugabe’s time in power is ‘coming to an end’ in Zimbabwe

Sir Nicholas Soames, Mid Sussex MP, speaking about the situation in Zimbabwe in the House of Commons
Sir Nicholas Soames, Mid Sussex MP, speaking about the situation in Zimbabwe in the House of Commons

The British Government has ‘unfinished business’ in Zimbabwe in light of the military action taken this week, according to Mid Sussex’s MP.

President Robert Mugabe, who has been in power since 1980, is reportedly under house arrest and is facing calls to step down.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson called for the Zimbabwean people to be ‘masters of their fate, and for any political change to be peaceful, lawful, and constitutional’.

Speaking in the Commons, Mid Sussex MP Sir Nicholas Soames suggested that if the events of the last few days ‘presage a move towards easier times’ the British Government has ‘unfinished business in Zimbabwe’.

He asked Mr Johnson on Wednesday (November 15): “Will he assure me that they will offer further assistance, if they can, to help that wonderful country and its remarkable people, both black and white, in their transition to—we hope—a better Government and a more prosperous state?”

Mr Johnson said: “I thank my right honourable friend, notably for his recent mission to Zimbabwe. I was very interested to hear of his meetings there.

“I know that he personally, in a way, incarnates the historic ties between our two countries. He knows whereof he speaks. Zimbabwe has fantastic potential.

“It is a country with a very well-educated population, and it has a great future if it can secure the right political system. That is all it takes.

“They have fantastic natural resources, and my right honourable friend can be absolutely reassured that the UK Government—who, as my right honourable friend the Prime Minister said just now, contribute about £80 million or £90 million in DFID spending— will be continuing to invest in Zimbabwe and its future.”

Back in October Sir Nicholas visited Zimbabwe at the invitation of the British ambassador to take part in the embassy’s commemorations of the First World War, to visit the Commonwealth war graves in Harare, to meet veterans of the British Army, Navy and Air Force, to meet representatives of the farmers who have had their land confiscated, British overseas service pensioners, conservationists and the extensive DFID projects in the country.

His father was the last governor of Southern Rhodesia and during the trip the MP met Mr Mugabe.

Speaking to the BBC Radio 4 Today Programme, Sir Nicholas said Mr Mugabe seemed to be ‘very much in control’ of power, but appeared tired, uncomfortable, and in ill-health.

He called for the President to resign and described the recent events in the African country as a sign of Mugabe’s time ‘coming to an end’.

He added: “In my view it would be a complete disaster for Zimbabwe if she [Grace Mugabe] was President and I think the whole thing of this is an absolute cathartic moment when Zimbabwe fate is thrown up in the air.

“I think it is a very very dangerous moment.”