French ambassador Laurent Delahousse has caused a storm in a teacup with his remarks on Bastile Day in support of the absent journalist-cum-activist, Itai Dzamara.
Foreign ambassadors risk being deported if they engage in political activism, Foreign Affairs minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi warned.
Delahousse alleged that state officials abducted Dzamara, who has been missing since March 9. Delahousse alleged he was abducted for trying to uphold freedom of expression.
Mumbengegwi said such accusations raised suspicion that Westerners were the ones who organised Dzamara’s disappearance in order to attack Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe will uphold all aspects of the Vienna Convention of 1961, Mumbengegwi blustered.
Nobody is likely to take much notice of Mumbengegwi’s remarks. Who are the reading public likely to support? One of the largest and most important countries in Europe with a long record of human rights or the rantings of a minister in a government with an appalling human rights record.
Delahousse’s remarks were designed to rescue a notable civic activist from harm or possibly death by exposing his case.
Mumbengegwi will have attracted international opprobrium with his outburst. His claim that thousands of people in the US and UK go missing every year is patently daft.
These are family cases and have nothing to do with human rights issues.
Mumbengegwi should try and say something sensible when he summons fellow diplomats. As it stands, he is not widely admired among colleagues. That impression will have been confirmed by claiming Westerners were “the ones who organised Dzamara’s disappearance”
“Any ambassador who is politically inclined must request their governments to recall them so they can become politicians in their home countries,” he fatuously stated. “This is much better if they want to go rather than being assisted by Zimbabwe to go.”
These exchanges are useful for long-standing observers watching diplomatic big hitters at play. Every new envoy invariably believes they can make a difference. So they talk in glowing terms of the possibilities of building bridges and a new era.
Very soon they discover the new era is a brick wall. They have encountered the downside of the Zanu PF machine in the person of Mumbengegwi. There are some amenable people in the ruling party, but they are few and far between.
It’s rotational, stupid
Zimbabwe enjoys favourable relations with Africa and many other states, we are told. This is a tribute to President Robert Mugabe, we are led to believe.
But chairmanship of the AU is rotational. Mugabe got it because it was his turn. But we were interested to hear West African states were “raising dust” over the Dzamara case. Why don’t the autocrats in Harare save themselves a lot of bother by giving Dzamara back to his family and friends. Nothing could be more calculated to maintain Zimbabwe’s status as a rogue state than this episode.
It must be said that civil society has been underwhelmed by what investigations have revealed so far — next to nothing by the look of it.
Meanwhile, the Sunday Mail has taken to calling Dzamara a “failed politician”. We wonder how many Sunday Mail journalists can be tarred with this brush. They get their instructions from politicians every day and don’t seem to mind.
The Mail, for instance rushed to accuse NewsWeek of dreaming up fiction over the first family’s Alpha Omega project.
“Confusion reigns at many newspapers”, the Sunday Mail told us. It forgot to mention how many farms the First Lady has acquired. It must be hard for Dzamara’s family being used as a mascot when all they want is to see their father safely home, the paper said.
The Sunday Mail has apparently taken over commentary on how the Dzamara family must feel by those who possibly determine whether he still feels anything at all!
Curiosuly, one of the letters to the editor in the Sunday Mail include one from “Guy Fawkes”. We don’t know how he managed to survive all those years since 1606.
Every country has its own fair share of charlatans or quacks — a person falsely claiming to have a special knowledge or skill, or somebody who dishonestly pretends to know or be something they are not to deceive people.
In Zimbabwe, President Robert Mugabe’s nephew Patrick Zhuwao is certainly one such a person. He is a quack. He tries too hard to come across as an expert in history, politics, economics and the media, etc. Yet he is certainly not one. Perhaps he knows something about computers, but clearly his commentaries on current affairs are all over the place; rather shallow and unenlightening.
Muckraker was amused to read in the last edition of the state-controlled Sunday Mail his dreadful column, Zhuwao Brief, dealing with our company, AMH. The piece, headlined Newspaper publishers cannot become vendors, was rambling and incoherent.
Quite apart from Zhuwao’s appalling writing skills, it was difficult to understand what he was talking about. Zhuwao has two big problems as a wannabe columnist: atrocious writing skills and a logic deficit. Logical thinking helps us discern issues, solve problems, and make good decisions, unless of course your logic is flawed.
Advice: maybe Zhuwao should undergo a sequences (logical reasoning) test to improve his abilities, or better still read Charles Sanders Peirce’s First Rule of Logic. Perhaps it could help the guy. So far he is just a lost cause!
Underlining this time warp, we had the unsavoury picture of Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa visiting Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko, the most reactionary ruler in Europe. Mnangagwa’s visit marked a milestone in strengthening ties between Harare and Minsk, we are told.
During the meeting at the Palace of Independence, Mnangagwa told the Belarusian ruler that he had come on behalf of Mugabe who is keen to enhance co-operation.
Needless to say, the usual mention was made of “busting” Western sanctions. And there was the mandatory visit to a tractor factory which is a standing joke in the rest of Euope.
Zimbabwe was the most appropriate country from which to expand relations with Africa, Mnangagwa told journalists. He emphasised mining and agriculture, but saw Zimbabwe generally as a hub for the rest of Africa.
It is extraordinary, isn’t it, that Zimbabwe should befriend one of Europe’s polecats with a poor human rights record? Can we assume Kim Jong Un will be Mnangagwa’s next stop?
Finally, all those readers who recall the language Grace used during her meet-the-people tours last year, she is, according to the Herald yesterday, a patriot and philanthropist who has “a tender and loving heart”.