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Zimbabweans throw party to welcome president Emmerson Mnangagwa to the UK for Cop26

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Zimbabweans have been spotted stocking up on booze and snacks to celebrate the arrival of their president at the Cop26 climate summit.

In pictures shared by the country’s information minister, two men are seen pushing trollies filled to the brim with bottles of whisky, wine, beer and crisps at a Costco store in Glasgow.

Video shows the men, sporting scarfs with the Zimbabwean colours, wheeling the packed trollies out of the store while saying ‘Cop 26 we are ready’. 

Another of the men is heard saying: ‘We are welcoming the president Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa in Scotland, UK’.

The video was shared by Zimbabwe’s Information Minister, Nick Mangwana, who also Tweeted a video of men and women dancing on a beach to music.  

But while the video shows a joyful celebration, Zimbabweans have questioned the footage, with some suggesting it to be a propaganda push by Government officials. 

Others say the video is ‘sending the wrong message’ about the Cop26 conference, which is bringing together leaders from around the world to try and come up with solutions to tackle climate change.

But Mr Mangwana insists no delegates were involved and that the celebrations were organised by Zimbabweans living in the UK who wanted to welcome their president to Scotland.

It is the first time a Zimbabwean state leader has visited the UK in 25 years.

Sharing the video, Mr Mangwana said: ‘Tonight (Monday) there is a massive welcome party held in honour of President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa. 

In pictures shared by the country's information minister, two men are seen pushing trollies filled to the brim with bottles of whisky, wine, beer and crisps at a Costco in Glasgow

Video shows the men, sporting scarfs with the Zimbabwean colours, wheeling the packed trollies, containing at least six bottles of Glenfiddich whisky, out of the store while saying 'Cop 26 we are ready'

In pictures shared by the country’s information minister, two men are seen pushing trollies filled to the brim with bottles of whisky, wine, beer and crisps at a Costco in Glasgow. Video shows the men, sporting scarfs with the Zimbabwean colours, wheeling the packed trollies, containing at least six bottles of Glenfiddich whisky, out of the store while saying ‘Cop 26 we are ready’.

Yesterday, Mr Mnangagwa met with other world leaders including Boris Johnson and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at the Cop 26 climate summit

Yesterday, Mr Mnangagwa met with other world leaders including Boris Johnson and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at the Cop 26 climate summit

‘Glasgow is the place to be as Zimbabweans from all corners of the UK attend this shindig and welcome their President.  The party will spill over to the streets tomorrow. In the UK? Join the party.’

Key facts about Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa

– He is known as ‘the crocodile’ because of his political shrewdness.

– His faction is called ‘Lacoste’ as a nod to the French sportswear brand, whose logo is a crocodile.

– He received military training in China and Egypt in the 1960s

– He helped direct Zimbabwe’s war of independence in the 1960s and 1970s 

– He became the country’s spymaster during the 1980s civil conflict

– He has been accused of masterminding attacks on opposition supporters after the 2008 election 

– He has survived several alleged assassination attempts, blamed on supporters of predecessor Robert Mugabe

– He has vowed to move away from Mr Mugabe’s policies, including promising to ‘reengage with the world’

– In his inauguration speech he also promised to serve all citizens, reduce corruption, and revitalize the country’s economy

– But while vowing to move away from his policies, Mr Mnangagwa praised his predecessor as ‘a father, mentor, comrade in arms, and my leader’

It is the first time Mr Mnangagwa, known as ‘the crocodile’ because of his political cunning, has visited the UK.     

He was installed as president in November 2017 after his predecessor, Robert Mugabe, resigned following a military takeover and mass demonstrations. 

The protests themselves were sparked by the sacking of Mr Mnangagwa as deputy president.

Like his predecessor, Mr Mnangagwa is a member of the political group the Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF). 

His faction in the party is known as Lacoste – after the French sportswear brand which has a crocodile for a logo.

Yesterday, Mr Mnangagwa met with other world leaders including Boris Johnson and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at the Cop 26 climate summit.

It is the first face-to-face meeting between a UK and Zimbabwean state leader on British soil since then Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair met Mr Mugabe in Edinburgh in 1997. 

Relations between the two countries soured quickly after, with Mr Blair pulling out of talks that year to fund Mr Mugabe’s controversial land reforms.

Mr Mugbae, who died in 2019 two years after his resignation, railed against Britain and its political leaders as they opposed the policy and his management of Zimbabwe’s economy.

Britain, the European Union and the United States placed targeted sanctions on the country to punish Zimbabwe over its human rights record, including persecution of journalists and failure to punish the security forces for abuses under Mr Mugabe.

They west have maintained the targeted sanctions, despite Mr Mugabe’s resigning as president.

Last week, UN rapporteur Alena Douhan urged the west to lift the sanctions, saying that they restrict public access to healthcare, food and sanitation.

Yesterday, Mr Mnangagwa met with other world leaders including Boris Johnson and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at the Cop 26 climate summit. It is the first meeting between a UK and Zimbabwean president on British soil since Tony Blair met Mr Mugabe in 1997 (pictured)

Yesterday, Mr Mnangagwa met with other world leaders including Boris Johnson and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at the Cop 26 climate summit. It is the first meeting between a UK and Zimbabwean president on British soil since Tony Blair met Mr Mugabe in 1997 (pictured)

It is the first time Mr Mnangagwa (pictured), known as 'the crocodile' because of his political cunning, has visited the UK

It is the first time Mr Mnangagwa (pictured), known as ‘the crocodile’ because of his political cunning, has visited the UK

However there remains concern over human rights abuses in Zimbabwe, with Human Rights Watch warning of a ‘decline’ in the situation in 2020 under Mr Mnangagwa’s presidency.

The New York based charity warns suspected state security agents abducted and tortured more than 70 critics of the government last year.

Separately, Amnesty warned that the Zimbabwean government had used the Covid-19 to place ‘severe restrictions’ on freedoms in the country. 

‘Women were denied access to essential maternal health care, and violence against women and girls was widespread,’ Amnesty said. 

In June last year a UN human rights experts called on Zimbabwe to immediately end a reported pattern of disappearances and torture that appear aimed at suppressing protests and dissent.

Mr Mnangagwa later vowed to ‘flush out a few rogue Zimbabweans’ who he accused of trying to destabilise the country in ‘league with foreign detractors’.

The comments came at the same time as the country’s government faced a wave of social media criticism over video showing security officials beating civilians.

It started the #ZimbabweanLivesMatter trend on Twitter. Celebrities including South African rapper Kiernan Forbes supported the campaign. 

Information minister Mr Mangwana’s decision to post pictures of the celebrations prompted a backlash from some on social media.  

One Twitter user wrote: ‘Rest of the world: ‘The world is dying let’s come together and talk about it…’

‘ED Supporters: ‘Let’s go to Costco and buy alcohol’. 

‘Nick (the official government spokesperson): ‘Let me promote this on social media.’ 

Another wrote: ‘Optics are very important, this does not look good.’

One twitter user asked what Zimbabwe was going to do about climate change, promoting a response from Mr Mangwana. He said: ‘We will cover that. 

‘We covered bits this morning. For now Zimbabweans are welcoming their president to Glasgow.’

He also replied to those suggesting the men were part of the Zimbabwean delegation to say: ‘No delegate is there.’ 

Biden, Johnson, Merkel and Trudeau put COP26 disagreements on hold as they attend meeting

World leaders including Joe Biden, Boris Johnson, Angela Merkel and Justin Trudeau engaged in a spot of dinner-time diplomacy last night as they joined hundreds for the biggest gathering of Government representatives since the birth of the United Nations – ahead of the last ‘full’ day of the COP26 summit today.

The congregation of leaders appeared in high spirits as they put disagreements on hold and capped off the first day at the COP26 climate conference with a lavish royal reception at Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum with Prince Charles, Prince William, Kate Middleton and the Duchess of Cornwall.

During the night the Prime Minister, who hosted the evening at the recently renovated gallery, told leaders the summit was ‘quite an extraordinary historic event’ and it was even more important because ‘we face nothing less than a mortal threat to our planet and to our civilisation’.

World leaders pose for a group photo during an evening reception to mark the opening day of the COP26 summit in Glasgow

World leaders pose for a group photo during an evening reception to mark the opening day of the COP26 summit in Glasgow

He also hailed Prince Charles as ‘the man to defuse the bomb at the world’s moment of danger’ and described him as a ‘prophet without honour’.

His comments came as world leaders prepare for a day make-or-break day negotiations during what will be the final day of the climate change conference for many of them – with leaders leaving delegates behind to negotiate on their behalf.

The lavish reception was opened by the Queen who urged world leaders to ‘earn a place in history’ and ‘answer the call of those future generations’ in an impassioned speech.



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