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
Arts and Entertainment
tv'Jingle Bells' quickstep on Strictly Come Dancing's Christmas Special
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
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: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there