UNITED States ambassador to Zimbabwe James McGee this week vowed that he will continue to publicly condemn state-sponsored violence against opposition members despite threats by government to expel him.
McGee, who was part of a group of envoys from various countries who last week visited victims of political violence in Mashonaland Central, said the government wanted to silence him.
Foreign Affairs minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi last week summoned McGee to his offices in the capital and told him that the government would not hesitate to expel him from Zimbabwe if he violates diplomatic protocol.
McGee was accused by Mumbengegwi of violating protocol when he visited victims of political violence in Mvurwi, Chiweshe and at the Avenues Clinic in Harare.
The US ambassador told the Zimbabwe Independent this week that his visits were not in any way in breach of diplomatic protocol as Mumbengegwiâ€™s ministry had given him permission “to travel anywhere” in Zimbabwe.
“I am particularly concerned about the issue of travel outside of Harare since I have in my possession a diplomatic note from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs dated May 18th 2006 that expressly says â€˜yes you are allowed to travel anywhere you wish in Zimbabweâ€™,” McGee said.
In any case, the envoys submitted a diplomatic note informing the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of their intended trip.
“Notification is nothing more than a formality, it is not a request for permission,” McGee said.
The ambassador added: “I am afraid that the Ministry doesnâ€™t know exactly what it is talking about when they told me that I had broken some laws or regulations by travelling more than 40km outside the city.”
McGee said that efforts to explain his case and the circumstances that saw him visit the victims of political violence proved futile, as he was told “to shut up, you are not allowed to talk”.
He said he would not allow his emotions to take precedence over common sense, as this would degenerate into a fiasco of unimaginable proportions between Zimbabwe and the US.
“I donâ€™t want this to blow up into a situation where we end up retaliating against Zimbabwean diplomats in the United States. Zimbabwean diplomats in the United States are allowed to travel wherever they wish without any impediments, without any restrictions, without any need to notify the Department of State or anyone else,” McGee said.
By Nkululeko Sibanda