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Published: November 13, 2010
Venue: Harare Int’ Airport
Speech arriving in Zimbabwe
Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press:
It is a very special pleasure for me to be on the soil of Zimbabwe this evening. It is ten years ago very nearly since we started the negotiations which led to the great independence celebrations of Zimbabwe. I shall never forget that time and nor will [ Robert Mugabe] Mr. President, and there were times when I wondered if I would ever get to see this great country. Now we are here and we are especially looking forward to all that you have to tell us and all that we have to see.
It has been a wonderful welcome. We are looking forward to seeing the things to which I know the President gives special attention and importance—the land settlement scheme and some of the many other schemes which you have done so magnificently during your great years of independence.[fo 1]
We also look forward to going on once more to Nyanga to see some of the training in which we are helping.
So many things, so much to see and for me it is a very great pleasure to represent my country, the United Kingdom, as Prime Minister, to come and greet the President of Zimbabwe. We very much look forward to it.
Mrs. Thatcher, what are the prospects of a similar peace position like Lancaster House in South Africa?
I think it would be just a little bit different. You remember we went to a conference—a Commonwealth Conference—at Lusaka and it was the whole Commonwealth Conference at Lusaka that gave us the responsibility for seeking a settlement in Zimbabwe and Mr. Mugabe knows the enormous care and attention we gave to it. It will be different in South Africa, because we cannot in any way do that, but I think there is one lesson to learn, that all people can learn![fo 2]
First, we sorted it out by negotiation and second, when we agreed that there should be an election, we made strenuous arrangements for the election to be absolutely fair and everyone knew that whatever the result, we would abide by it.
So there was total integrity, which meant a very great deal and I think that augurs well for other countries. Namibia will soon be having an election and coming to independence and we hope that soon there will be negotiations in South Africa. So they have a lot to learn from the way in which we went about it and a great deal to learn from the success of Zimbabwe since independence.
But do you feel there is a sea change in the region?
I think there is a sea change in the region. I think we are … . to see change in the world. There is an atmosphere about that these problems can be solved by negotiation. We can see places like this, where it has been so very successful. Whatever the problems, it has been the patient negotiation that has solved them, and I think that does give a very good example for others to follow.[fo 3]
… . Zimbabwe … . changes you have been talking about?
President Mugabe and I have talked together many many times. We talk together very frankly and we have established a friendly relationship of total integrity and whatever Mr. Mugabe has told me he was going to do, he has always done it and I hope that he would feel the same with every undertaking that I have given to him. It is a very very good relationship.
Are we at a critical turning point?
On behalf of the people of Zimbabwe and on my own behalf, I would like to welcome to Zimbabwe Mrs. Thatcher, the Prime Minister of Great Britain, and Mr. Thatcher.
To us, the people of Zimbabwe, this is an historic moment. For the first time, we have the Prime Minister and Executives, the Head of the Government of Great Britain, visiting us and this after eight to nine years of independence.[fo 4]
The relations between us and Britain have always been very friendly. There might be one or two areas of difference but even in a family, you do not get that unanimity and so I would want, on behalf of the people of Zimbabwe once again to say to you Mrs. Thatcher and Mr. Thatcher; you are very welcome, very welcome indeed!