Zim won't bow to demand by British MP to remove Chiwenga as VP: minister

Zimbabwe says it won't yield to demands by a prominent British opposition MP for Vice President Constantino Chiwenga to step down.

Writing on Twitter last week Labour MP Kate Hoey said Chiwenga’s removal as vice president and defence minister should be “the very minimum” for Britain, the US and the EU to change their policies on Zimbabwe.

In response Foreign Minister Sibusiso Moyo said: “Kate is a member of parliament in Britain and she has her liberty and freedom of expression, but that does not mean that is the official position of Britain.”

Deadly crackdown

“We still consider Britain as a strategic partner which requires that both of us should iron out issues,” Moyo added, in comments carried by New Zimbabwe.

Chiwenga, a former defence forces commander, led the November army operation that ousted Robert Mugabe. He was made vice president by Mugabe's successor, Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Critics claim Chiwenga, who is also defence minister, was responsible for the August 1 army crackdown on opposition protests that saw six civilians shot dead in central Harare.

The US, Britian, EU and other Western countries condemned the army over its "excessive use of force”.

Last week, US President Donald Trump signed a new bill that imposes tough conditions for Zimbabwe to meet before Washington will consider lifting its 16-year-old sanctions on Harare.

'Conditions met'

Moyo called the move “regrettable” but said Harare would still try to engage Washington, reports the state-run Herald

He claimed some of the US’s conditions had already been met.

“The rule of law, freedom of expression, free and fair elections have already been accomplished in the new dispensation,” he said.