Britain seeks support to end Zimbabwe violence

Foreign Secretary Robin Cook today asked the President of Mozambique to act as a go-between with Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe in a bid to end the tensions which have brought the African state to the brink of anarchy.

Joaquim Chissano was among top-level representatives of seven southern and central African states gathering at the Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe for a regional summit at which the recent spate of farm occupations is expected to be discussed.

Two farmers, some labourers and several members of Zimbabwe's opposition have been murdered, up to 1,000 farms occupied and dozens of families forced to abandon their homes since veterans of the country's liberation war began squatting on white-owned land in February.

Mr Cook, who is in Nepal, spoke to President Chissano by telephone and asked him to add his voice to those of other African leaders urging President Mugabe to restore the rule of law in his country.

He said that President Chissano - current president of the Southern African Development Community, which has been identified as a possible "honest broker" in the search for a solution to the issue - had responded positively to the suggestion.

But Zimbabwean officials arriving at Victoria Falls dismissed suggestions that their country's problems would be discussed at a summit scheduled to focus on the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Defence minister Moven Mahachi told BBC Radio 4's World at One: "We don't expect heads of state to come here to discuss internal matters of another country. There is nothing that warrants that at the moment.

"There is no chaos in the country, none whatsoever."

Mr Mahachi insisted that the farm occupations had involved only "petty violence" and compared them with the hooliganism that marred Leeds United's football match with Turkish team Galatasaray yesterday.

He said: "A few incidents of violence are found everywhere. There was violence yesterday when Leeds played a Turkish team - you can't say that England is in chaos. Yes, there was violence when some farms were destroyed, but you can't say in Zimbabwe there is chaos.

"There are people killed in South Africa every day. There have been more farmers killed in South Africa than the petty violence and two deaths we have experienced in Zimbabwe."

Mr Cook told the World at One: "I hope that President Chissano and his colleagues, when they meet President Mugabe, will warn him that what he is doing is not just damaging Zimbabwe but also threatens investment, standing and stability of countries around it.

"Much of the rest of Africa is concerned. Our strategy throughout has been to mobilise international opinion to pressurise President Mugabe to understand that he cannot ignore the rule of law without deep damage to his own country.

"We have been successful in mobilising international opinion through the UN, the EU, through my meeting with the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth and with the many contacts we have made with African leaders, who are speaking to President Mugabe.

"The message is certainly getting across to President Mugabe that many of the countries closest to him are deeply worried about the anarchy that is developing in Zimbabwe, are concerned that it could spread across the region and want it to come to an end."

Mr Cook reiterated Britain's willingness to provide financial support for a programme of land redistribution, provided that it takes place in an atmosphere of restored law and order, following free and fair elections, and that it benefits landless peasants, not cronies of the Mugabe regime.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Buttoned up: Ryan Reynolds with Helen Mirren in ‘Woman in Gold’
filmFor every box-office smash in his Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. Now he says it's time for a reboot
News
people
News
Actress Julianne Moore wins the Best Actress in a Leading Role Award for 'Still Alice' during the 87th Annual Academy Awards in Hollywood, California
people
Sport
Ross Barkley
footballPaul Scholes says it's time for the Everton playmaker to step up and seize the England No 10 shirt
News
'We will fix it': mice in the 1970s children’s programme Bagpuss
science
Life and Style
2 Karl Lagerfeld and Choupette
fashion
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Executive

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Retail Buyer / Ecommerce Buyer

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Working closely with the market...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - CAD Software Solutions Sales

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A reputable company, famed for ...

Ashdown Group: Client Accountant Team Manager - Reading

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group has been engaged by a highly resp...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

War with Isis

Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

A spring in your step?

Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head

Hack Circus: Technology, art and learning

Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head. Rhodri Marsden meets mistress of ceremonies Leila Johnston
Sevenoaks is split over much-delayed decision on controversial grammar school annexe

Sevenoaks split over grammar school annexe

If Weald of Kent Grammar School is given the go-ahead for an annexe in leafy Sevenoaks, it will be the first selective state school to open in 50 years
10 best compact cameras

A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
Paul Scholes column: Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now

Paul Scholes column

Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now
Why Michael Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Why Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Manchester United's talented midfielder has played international football for almost 14 years yet, frustratingly, has won only 32 caps, says Sam Wallace
Tracey Neville: The netball coach who is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

Tracey Neville is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

The former player on how she is finding time to coach both Manchester Thunder in the Superleague and England in this year's World Cup
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?