Outgoing United Kingdom Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Catriona Laing, has been accused of being partisan and having a bias towards the ruling party, ZANU-PF.
As her tenure here in Zimbabwe has come to an end, we ask the question, was she a fair envoy? Was she biased?
Catriona Laing is being promoted to the High Commissionership in Nigeria and will commence her work in November this year.
But, what was the perception of her tenure here in Zimbabwe? Certainly, controversial. In July, Laing “liked” a tweet from a shadowy character who had argued President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government was giving too much freedom to Zimbabweans. It attracted some anger from Zimbabweans.
When Mnangagwa took over, Laing was at pains to justify Mnangagwa’s legitimacy, and she embraced the Mnangagwa-led government. Catriona Laing fully supported Mugabe, in what turned out to be a situation where the British abandoned their tough stance on ZANU-PF. It seemed the British have abandoned the opposition now and are now more willing to engage the ruling party, which they detested a lot.
To her credit, well, Laing has done a good job in convincing some people that Mnangagwa is a credible figure.
Laing has raised eyebrows within opposition circles for what many felt was her being overly embedded with the Zanu PF led administration, far beyond her mandate as a diplomat.
But Laing has denied all these accusations of bedding with ZANU-PF. “I find it laughable. I have heard these sad rumours. Of course, I am not running this government. I am a diplomat representing my country,” she said.
“The government of Zimbabwe is running this government,” she said.
“I have a relationship with them as the representative of Her Majesty’s government; a constructive relationship based on mutual understanding but, I am not running this government.”
Laing said she enjoyed cordial relations with MDC leader Nelson Chamisa and his party.
“I have a good cordial relationship with him and I do not have any problems at that level,” she said.
Of course, as a diplomat, the reasonable thing to do is to deny such claims. You wouldn’t want to make silly mistakes really, especially when being promoted. But the questions remain. Her behaviour was highly questionable. But anyway, does that matter now? We have what we have.