Archive for Zimbabwe
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.
Zimbabwe’s ambassador to Australia, Jacqueline Zwambila, has been accused of sexual harassment by her butler. Felix Machiridza also says he has been punished by the MDC-appointed ambassador because he spurned her sexual advances. In an e-mail to the Sunday Times, Machiridza listed his grievances, which include being forced to pick up used condoms in Zwambila’s son’s room. “I have been pushed to the brink of the precipice and I feel I should cry out in order to get some respite,” he wrote, adding that he had received threats if the story came out in the press. Last year, Zwambila was accused of stripping in front of embassy staff in a rage. She was briefly called home but was allowed back after investigations into the incident failed to provide tangible evidence. The father of four has worked for Zwambila for more than a year. “OnMarch 27 2010, Ms Zwambila called me on my mobile at10.30pmand asked me to bring Coke to her room. I was already in bed and I obediently went upstairs to the kitchen, poured the Coke and took it to her room. I knocked on her door and she asked me to come in. I was shocked to see her half-dressed, sitting on her bed.” He says she said: “Come and give me my Coke. Why do you behave as if you have never been with a woman before?” Machiridza says he was also invited to occupy a room next to hers at the ambassador’s official residence inCanberra. In retribution, he has “been made to work extra-long days without overtime, been ridiculed and insulted, including being shouted at and has been called all kinds of demeaning names. He has also been removed from the cottage and lived for almost a year in the garage room and been threatened with deportation to Zimbabwe”. “I am almost certain that my abuse by Ms Zwambila was retribution for refusing to bend to her seduction,” he says. After several letters appealing for fair treatment, last month he asked for his contract to be terminated. Several attempts to get comment from Zwambila failed as she dropped calls. Joey Bimha, permanent secretary in the ministry of foreign affairs confirmed receiving the report. “We received a complaint from the butler. We are investigating. I have spoken to the ambassador and we have given her an opportunity to respond. After the investigations, the ministry can take a position.”
Ambassador to Australia Jacqueline Zwambila failed to sue embassy staff in Canberra, who accused her of stripping naked in their presence last year, since the officials are protected by diplomatic immunity. This comes after the ambassador, from the MDC-T party, successfully sued an Australian paper over the same story. The paper paid her A$65 000 after they agreed to an out-of-court settlement. She then reportedly wanted the embassy staff that she manages to be tried in Australian courts for allegedly tarnishing her image. However, Foreign Affairs Secretary Ambassador Joey Bimha said although his officers were yet to formally update him on the latest developments, the officials could not be tried in foreign courts. According to sources in Canberra, Ambassador Zwambila is suing the officials for stories published in the media in Harare and Australia. It was reported last year that Ambassador Zwambila stripped naked after accusing embassy staff of leaking information to The Herald about an anti-Government website that she was running.
The official car of the German ambassador to Zimbabwe, Albrecht Conze, was attacked in suburban Harare earlier this week, the diplomat disclosed, saying he was not injured. The driver of the car with its official diplomatic plates, had stopped briefly at an intersection when an assailant emerged from the tall grass at the side of the road and tried to smash the rear window next to where he was sitting, he told the German Press Agency dpa. Conze believed the assailant wanted to rob him, but did not exclude the possibility the attack was politically motivated. The envoy is known to have roused the ire of officials in President Robert Mugabe”s ZANU(PF) party after he published an article in the local independent press charging Mugabe with racist rhetoric and with corruption in the nationalization of the economy. Mugabe has vowed to effect legislation that gives him the power to seize 51 percent of all white- or foreign-owned companies with assets of more than 500,000 US dollars and give them to black Zimbabweans.
Britain has sent a formal diplomatic complaint to Harare to protest the harassment of its diplomat Sarah Bennett by ruling Zanu (PF) supporters in Mutasa rural area in Manicaland. The British embassy said president Robert Mugabe’s party bused-in protesters to a mission hospital in the east of the country where the diplomat, second secretary Sarah Bennett, was handing over British-funded hospital equipment. Demonstrators mobbed local officials and visiting dignitaries, demanding the lifting of western sanctions targeted at Mugabe and his ruling elite. It was “deeply depressing” the project was subjected to party propaganda, the statement said. No violence was reported, but the incident came amid rising tensions and a new upsurge in political violence across Zimbabwe ahead of elections due later this year. British ambassador Mark Canning said that Britain had spent more than $100 million (£60m) in aid for local communities in Zimbabwe last year. And he dismissed claims that visa, business and banking sanctions on Mugabe and his Zanu (PF) party by Britain and the European Union had hurt Zimbabweans as a whole.
Zimbabwe’s ambassador to Australia who was last month recalled to Harare after she allegedly stripped in front of embassy staff, has returned to her post. Ms Jacqueline Zwambila was reinstated after meetings with the minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, who has reportedly exonerated her of any wrongdoing. Three men embassy officials, who claimed the ambassador stripped in front of them, have been recalled. The case mirrored the disagreements in the unity government between President Robert Mugabe and his former rivals as the officials were accused of leaking sensitive information to the state-controlled media. Ms Zwambila is a member of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and there were claims that she was being victimised for her political affiliation. “Ambassador Zwambila went back to Canberra on Friday,” said Mr Jameson Timba, a minister in the Prime Minister’s Office was quoted as having said on Wednesday.