Britain issues travel warning ahead of referendum

November 2, 2012 at 12:00 pm Leave a comment

Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office has issued a travel warning about
the possible outbreak of political violence in the run up to a
constitutional referendum.

by Edgar Gweshe

It identified war veterans as some of the major culprits of political
violence in Zimbabwe.

“Although the economic outlook in Zimbabwe has improved, political tension
remains, particularly in light of a possible constitutional referendum and
elections in 2012/2013. Farm invasions continue, often accompanied by
violence and looting of property. Exercise caution when visiting areas you
are not familiar with,” reads the travel update.

The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office said political tensions in
Zimbabwe remained high due to the failure by parties in the inclusive
government to fully implement reforms agreed under the Global Political
Agreement as well as state-sponsored harassment of MDC-T ministers.

“Be aware that the open hand is the political symbol of the former
opposition, now the party of the Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai. So, a
friendly wave may be misinterpreted,” says the travel update.

It adds that the Zimbabwe Republic Police cannot be relied upon to respond
to cases of political violence.

In August this year, the programme coordinator for ZimRights NGO Forum, a
coalition of 19 human rights organisations, Blessing Gorejena, said the
organisation was wary of a possible outbreak of violence during the
constitutional referendum and elections.

British nationals were also warned against the brutality of Mugabe’s
security personnel who form part of the Presidential motorcade.

“There have been a number of incidents where people have been assaulted by
the security forces for stopping in the wrong place or for not stopping soon
enough,” says the update.

The update also highlights British concerns over disease outbreaks,
particularly typhoid.

“Typhoid has been reported in several of Harare’s western suburbs with over
4,000 cases identified. The outbreak is ongoing and has spread to other
provinces”.

“You should ensure that your typhoid vaccination is up to date,” it says,
while expressing concern that health services in Zimbabwe “are patchy and
the provision of health care is unreliable”.

It also warned its citizens about the unreliable nature of Zimbabwe’s
airline services and poorly maintained roads.

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