Mapuranga was one of several embassy officials representing African countries who attended Africa Day celebrations held on Tuesday at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Washington DC.
According to a reliable source, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson, in a prepared speech, spoke of the progress that African countries had made since their independence from colonial rule.
Carson said that the United States was a strong advocate of African independence and was willing to help the continent to deal with the challenges it faces.
His speech also criticised human rights abuse and bad governance in Zimbabwe, which, did not go down well with Mapuranga.
“In Zimbabwe, ruling Zanu-PF government officials continue to hinder democracy through harassment of the opposition and civil society and failure to honour their obligations to open the political space as called for in the Global Political Agreement,” Carson said.
It is said that Mapuranga shouted at Carson from the audience: “You are talking like a good house slave.”
“We will never be an American colony, you know that.” Organisers of the event asked the ambassador to leave.
The source said the ambassador was booed by other delegates. According to the Washington Post, Carson retaliated by saying the ambassador’s outburst could have meant brutal punishment for the offender in Zimbabwe.
“You can sit in the audience in darkness but the light will find you and the truth will find you,” Carson said.
“It seems that (President) Robert Mugabe has some friends in the room tonight. Unlike in Zimbabwe, they are allowed to speak without oppression because this is a democracy.”
“In Zimbabwe,” he said, “that kind of talk would have been met by a policeman’s stick. We don’t do that here,” Carson said before returning to his prepared speech.
Efforts to get comment from the ambassador and the embassy’s press department in Washington were fruitless as Mapuranga was said to be out of the office.
Officials at the US Public Affairs Section in Harare could not comment on the issue.
Foreign Affairs minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi was not in his office when this newspaper called but an official in the ministry who preferred anonymity confirmed that they were aware of the incident.