THE British government has reportedly rejected President Robert Mugabe’s choice of ambassador-designate, Ray Ndhlukula for undisclosed reasons, NewsDay has learnt.
BY RICHARD CHIDZAmugabe-13
Ndhlukula, currently a deputy chief secretary to the President and Cabinet, has been embroiled in a bitter tussle over Centenary Farm in Figtree with David Connolly.
Sources close to the developments told NewsDay that Britain had indicated it would not accept Ndhlukula’s appointment after Mugabe nominated him as his choice of ambassador to replace long-serving, Gabriel Machinga, a former Education minister.
“They have rejected the President’s nomination likely because of the farm seizures,” NewsDay heard.
Foreign Affairs permanent secretary Joey Bimha said the British government had not officially communicated with Harare regarding their reservations.
“They have not officially communicated with us over the issue. We have not heard from them,” he said, adding: “The Presidency could be better placed because such issues are done in confidence.”
The British Embassy in Harare was also reluctant to comment on the issue
“We do not comment on ambassadorial appointments,” the embassy said in an emailed response, despite having requested questions in writing.
In March last year, Connolly celebrated a short-lived victory after the Bulawayo High Court ordered Ndhlukula off the farm and sentenced the senior civil servant to a suspended 90-day jail term on condition he complied with the order issued in case number HC1204/14 with 14 days.
Ndhlukula stayed put, but despite the contempt, was not sent to jail.
Instead, Connolly was charged with illegally staying on the farm before the case crumbled, as magistrates in Gwanda seemed reluctant to hear the matter.
The wrangle continues despite Ndhlukula having two other farms in Matabeleland South, Wilfred Hope Farm in Marula, and Vlakfontein, known as Subdivision 2 of Marula Block.
Zimbabwe’s agricultural sector, once the backbone of the economy, imploded, leaving millions without jobs.
Mugabe, once the darling of the West, has refused to pay compensation for land, but insists his administration will only pay for developments on the farms.
The fall-out over the land issue, as well as alleged rights abuses and electoral theft has seen Mugabe and his close aides placed under sanctions, while the United States passed a law that the Zanu PF leader has blamed for the country’s economic troubles in the past decade and half.