Archive for Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe fell short of accusing Britain of smuggling thousands of small radios into the country, which were being distributed “illegally” in rural areas – President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF party says in order to aid its rivals in elections due this year. Without naming the foreign mission responsible, Mugabe’s spokesman George Charamba said the Foreign Affairs Ministry was exploring “the complicity of this embassy”, adding: “Soon people will be summoned.” Mugabe’s Zanu PF party maintains a tight grip on the airwaves. So-called “pirate” radio stations broadcasting from England, the United States and the Netherlands are regularly jammed. It is believed the radios – which have seen dozens of NGO activists arrested – are manufactured by a United Kingdom-based company, Lifeline Energy. The wind-up and solar-powered radios have an audio storage capacity of 64 gigabytes and can receive FM, AM and Show Wave signals. If Zimbabwe carries through its threat to summon Britain’s ambassador, this would mark a significant escalation of tensions between the two countries. Relations have been frayed since Mugabe’s government embarked on land reforms in 2000 which targeted farms owned by descendents of British colonialists. Charamba added in a statement: “We are investigating to see whether this was consistent with the provisions of the Vienna Convention. We are also keen to understand the interests of that embassy by bringing that consignment using its diplomatic status. “We are also investigating the institutions which received those radios for distribution countrywide.”
The United States of America’s Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Mr David Bruce Wharton received more than he had bargained for when a female demonstrator stripped naked in protest over the illegal sanctions imposed on the country. Mr Wharton had to make a hasty retreat after Ms Sheila Mutsenhu confronted him in her undergarments during his brief tour of the American Corner at the Turner Memorial Library near the Civic Centre. The visit was Mr Wharton’s first official visit to Manicaland after he presented his credentials to President Mugabe in November last year and his visit saw him coming face to face with the wrath of angry Zimbabweans who want the illegal sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe lifted immediately. The Mutare demonstrations come barely 24 hours after villagers in Makoni District forced him to abandon his tour of Sangano Diary Farm on Tuesday. The villagers were also protesting against the illegal sanctions imposed on the country by the US and its Western allies.
The US Government called on the Government of Zimbabwe to ensure the safety and security of diplomatic personnel, and to condemn the harassment and intimidation of peaceful exchanges between the U.S. and the Zimbabwean people. US State Department Spokesperson Victoria Nuland was responding to a question at a press conference regarding President Robert Mugabe’s supporters preventing US Ambassador in Zimbabwe from speaking to the public. On Wednesday, Ambassador David Bruce Wharton was on his first visit to Manicaland province to observe USAID projects and meet with businesspeople, academics, local authorities, and citizens. About 130 ZANU-PF protesters gathered at the Turner Memorial Library in Mutare, where the Ambassador was scheduled to deliver remarks. Wharton spent about 15 to 20 minutes listening to their messages but the protesters refused to engage in constructive conversation with the US diplomat, Nuland said in a statement. While admitting that the right to peaceful protest is a critical element of democracy, she expressed Washington’s regret that the protesters were not willing to engage in a more constructive manner.
Since her posting to Canberra, Zimbabwe Ambassador to Australia, Jacqueline Zwambila has been hitting the headlines for the wrong reasons. In 2010, just a few months after assuming her duties in Canberra, she reportedly stripped before shocked embassy staff, a development that saw her being summoned by the foreign affairs ministry to explain her actions. Now, Ms Zwambila has gone a bit further with her transgressions by attending an ex-Rhodesian armed forces commemoration in Australia and even having her photo taken with the die-hard Rhodie security men. To this end we hail the steps taken by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in asking Ms Zwambila to explain her actions. We hope that is a prelude to sterner action. Its high time the blundering envoy answered for her actions as she has been misrepresenting the country over the past three years.
The Spanish Embassy has cancelled all its cultural programmes following the death of its ambassador to Zimbabwe, Pilar Fuertes Ferragut in a car accident last Monday while on holiday in Namibia. The announcement was made by the embassy in a statement via the electronic mail to those who had been invited to the cultural programmes. “Due to the sudden and tragic passing away of H.E. Pilar Fuertes Ferragut, Ambassador of Spain, please be advised that all cultural activities of the Embassy of Spain have been cancelled until further notice,” reads one of the e-mail. In another e-mail, mourners were informed to visit the embassy and sign their condolences messages in a Book of Condolences which ends today. The events cancelled include the reading of the Young Women’s Open Forumand “The Trek and other stories,” written by Lawrence Hoba as part of their Second Edition of the Book Club, which were supposed to have been held on April 3 and 4 respectively.
The Spanish Ambassador to Zimbabwe has been killed in a car crash while on a visit to Namibia on Monday. The Spanish embassy announced on Tuesday Ambassador Pilar Fuertes Ferragut who doubled up as the Spanish envoy to Zambia and Malawi died in a fatal accident. “The Spanish Embassy wishes to inform you of the tragic passing away of H.E. Pilar Fuertes Ferragut… in a car accident on Monday afternoon,” said a statement signed by embassy official Romée Fisher. The statement added that “all cultural activities of the Embassy of Spain have been cancelled until further notice.” Ambassador Ferragut was accredited to Zimbabwe in March 2009.
A Zimbabwean man has asked the High Court to evict the Russian embassy from his premises, which he is leasing to the foreign mission after failing to pay rentals. In a summons in the high court recently, James Brennan accused the Russian embassy of failing to pay rentals at a residential property he has been leasing to the embassy since April last year. Brennan claims that the embassy has defaulted on rental payments for three consecutive months and had refused to leave the Chisipite property in contravention of a lease agreement signed between the two parties. The Russian embassy was supposed to vacate Brenna’s residential property in December after the expiration of the lease agreement but had refused to do so and continued to occupy the place without paying rentals. Brenna said the embassy’s illegal actions had cost him $10 800 and $8 100 for the three months from January. President Robert Mugabe’s administration considers Russia as long time ally which supported the liberation war in the 70’s. Recently, the Zimbabwean government unsuccessfully attempted to shield the Zambian embassy from settling its mobile telecommunications bill with Econet after informing the telecoms operator’s lawyers that the embassy enjoys diplomatic immunity that saves its assts from being seized and auctioned to recover debt.
The U.S. Embassy in Zimbabwe criticized police and judicial officials for failing to stop escalating political violence, as a human rights group said it had documented more than 20 cases a day of assault, intimidation and torture. In a statement, the embassy said that militants backing longtime President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party had created a climate of fear and intimidation, particularly in the western Harare township of Mbare. The militants there are “unrestrained” by police and are extorting local traders, it said. ZANU-PF as a party committed to violence and intimidation unconstrained by the laws of the land,” the U.S. Embassy said. The independent humans right group Zimbabwe Peace Project, meanwhile, said 85 percent of the violence it had documented in August was perpetrated by Mugabe supporters. The group’s researchers detailed assaults, intimidation and torture, as well as politically motivated theft and looting.
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe will recall an ambassador who has been accused of stripping down to her underclothes before male embassy staff members. According to The Herald Jacqueline Zwambila,Zimbabwe”s ambassador to Australia, denies the charges and says they are politically motivated. But officials have now completed an investigation into her conduct and the decision to recall her “was reached last month,” said the official newspaper. Zwambila is from Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai”s party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which shares power with Mugabe”s Zanu-PF in an uneasy 31-month-old coalition. “It (the decision) was communicated to the (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai so that he recommends another person to take up the posting. He has however up to now not responded to that communication,” said the paper, quoting high government sources. Zwambila was accused of stripping in front of male embassy staff loyal to Mugabe to punish them for leaking information about her to an Australian-based columnist forZimbabwe”s Herald, which is controlled by top Zanu-PF officials. For an older woman to remove her clothes in the presence of younger males is regarded as an act of protest that is highly insulting in the local Shona culture. Zwambila is also accused of summoning her butler to her bedroom to order a Coke, when she was dressed only in her underclothes. The ambassador’s lawyers inAustralia- where Zwambila has launched a lawsuit against the columnist – say the accusations are defamatory and that politics is “at the heart of the case.”
Zimbabwe has expelled Libya’s ambassador after he recognised the rebel National Transitional Council (NTC) fighting Muammar Gaddafi’s regime, Foreign Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi said on Tuesday. “The Libyan ambassador and his staff decided to renounce their allegiance to the government of Colonel Gaddafi. This act deprives the Libyan ambassador and his staff of any diplomatic status in Zimbabwe because Zimbabwe does not recognise the NTC,” Mumbengegwi told journalists. “So it is in this context that the Libyan ambassador and his staff are required to leave Zimbabwe within the next 72 hours.” In a separate written statement, Mumbengegwi said Ambassador Taher Elmagrahi and staff would have just 48 hours to leave the country. Officials did not immediately clarify which deadline would apply. Zimbabwe, whose President Robert Mugabe has close ties to Gaddafi based on their shared anti-Western stance, has stood fast in its refusal to recognise the NTC even as the rebels have closed in on near-complete control over Libya. Representing the Libyan people Elmagrahi last Wednesday led his compatriots in burning portraits of Gaddafi and lowering the green flag synonymous with his regime. The embassy replaced the flag with that of the anti-Gaddafi rebellion, the red, black and green banner from independence in 1951. Elmagrahi announced he had thrown his support behind the rebels, saying he had written to Zimbabwe’s foreign ministry informing officials of his defection.