By Ray Fleming THERE are reports that Britain is planning to strip Robert Mugabe of the honorary knighthood which was given to Robert Mugabe by John Major's government in 1994. I hope this action will not be taken -- it would be such a trivial response to what is going on in Zimbabwe at the moment. The opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai is held for a second time in as many days, British and US diplomats are threatened and detained and -- worst of all -- hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans are facing hunger and even starvation as humanitarian agencies on which they depend are told by the authorities to stop their activities.

The presidential election run-off is three weeks away (if it is ever held).
Would a president seeking re-election act in the way that Mugabe is now doing if he was in control of events.? In mid-April I wrote in this space: “My guess is that Mugabe is a much reduced figure and that other, and more sinister, figures are really in charge.” This now seems the only possible explanation of the lunacy that is taking place day-by-day in Zimbabwe. The most likely malign influence is that of General Constantine Chiwenga, who has been head of the Zimbabwean Defence Forces for the past five years. He was a guerrilla fighter with Mugabe in the war which ended white rule in Zimbabwe.

Before the March election General Chiwenga said: “We will not support anyone other than President Mugabe.”