THE British government is building a £10 million complex for its Embassy in Harare despite its calls for foreign companies operating in Zimbabwe to pull out of the country.
Chief executive of leading construction group Murray & Roberts Mr Brian Bruce recently revealed that his company was contracted nearly 18 months ago to build the complex just outside Harare’s central business district.
“It is a completely new facility from scratch, costing in the region of £10 million. Work began about 18 months ago and is pretty close to completion,” Mr Bruce said.
Murray & Roberts Zimbabwe is 48 percent owned by Murray and Roberts, Johannesburg in South Africa and is listed separately on the local bourse.
The building is now close to completion and insiders said the UK’s mission in Harare would relocate there “late this year or early next year”.
Observers say the project exposes British hypocrisy following repeated claims by Prime Minister Gordon Brown and several of his ministers that Zimbabwe was not a safe country to do business in and that companies operating in the country should relocate as part of the illegal regime change agenda.
In essence, this means that the British government is investing in Zimbabwe while discouraging companies like Anglo-American and Barclays from doing so.
Keith Scott, the first secretary for political and public affairs at the British Embassy in Harare, yesterday admitted that the UK was indeed expanding its presence in the country despite official pronouncements calling for sanctions.
“It is right that the UK should plan an embassy commensurate with its interests in Zimbabwe,” Scott said without explaining why they were expanding while at the same time coercing others to pull out.
He added that their position was that “individuals must look to their own consciences as regards investments” in Zimbabwe.
Presently, the local UK embassy rents space in the city centre.
Britain, together with the United States, has been at the forefront in urging companies to pull out of Zimbabwe and last week their bid to have United Nations sanctions imposed on the country was thwarted by several members of the UN Security Council.