GOVERNMENT has expressed utter dismay following unwarranted comments by US Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Mr Brian Nichols in which he continues to attack the country’s political and economic programmes in clear violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.
Mr Nichols claimed that Zimbabwe was in political turmoil in an interview with The Sunday Times of South Africa, in stark contradiction to the reality obtaining in the country.
He also alleged that there was gross violation of human rights in Zimbabwe without substantiating his claims. Government said Mr Nichols’ actions were objectionable and stand in violation of diplomatic missions’ obligations under the Vienna Convention.
In a statement yesterday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade said the US Ambassador has a responsibility to carry out his legitimate functions without unduly attacking the Zimbabwean Government.
The Ministry told Mr Nichols to immediately cease any actions which are likely to further harm relations between Zimbabwe and the US, and also a flagrant violation of protocol, etiquette and the basic tenets of the Vienna Convention.
It reiterated that there was no crisis in Zimbabwe, but like all countries, Zimbabwe is grappling with a health exigency engendered by Covid-19 and the economic difficulties arising from the global pandemic.
The Ministry said even before Covid-19, the country was already facing economic challenges emanating from illegal sanctions imposed by the US and its allies, the impact of Cyclone Idai and recurrent droughts.
Contrary to claims by Mr Nichols that Zimbabwe lacked democracy and that Government violated human rights, the Ministry said Zimbabwe has a vibrant democracy buttressed by a free Press and an independent Judiciary with the Government respecting the rights of its citizens.
The Zimbabwe Government, once again, expresses its utter dismay at the actions by the United States Ambassador Mr Brian Nichols in continuing to make disparaging public comments and attacks on the Zimbabwe Government’s political and economic programmes. This is in clear violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, which governs the rules for the exchange and treatment of Envoys between States, as well as their behaviour,” said the Ministry.
The Ministry said the temporary limitations on freedoms due to the Covid-19 Emergency were in the interest of public health and safety.
It said individuals who are bent on impinging on others’ safety and freedoms, or disturbing the peace by bringing violence under the guise of freedom of assembly, would be brought to justice.
The Ministry said Government’s record in fighting corruption speaks for itself as there were no sacred cows in combating the cancer of corruption.
“Ambassador Nichols is aware of the cases of several former Government Ministers and Senior Government Officials who are on trial for corruption,” said the Ministry.
The Ministry said Mr Nichols should instead focus on the positive story coming out of Zimbabwe and its trajectory as confirmed by developments that include the fiscal consolidation, incorporating attainment of monthly Government budgetary surpluses and introduction of the Dutch Forex Auction and its stabilising effect on retail prices, the removal of fuel and electricity subsidies and the signing of the Global Compensation Deed.
Other developments include the successful processing of platinum projects, infrastructural projects that include road modernisation which will eventually promote intra-regional trade.
President Mnangagwa’s administration has also successfully repealed and replaced POSA and AIPPA, with full consensus in Parliament.
The Ministry said if Mr Nichols was indeed genuinely concerned about the plight of Zimbabweans, he would advise the US Government to lift its sanctions on Zimbabwe instead of fueling divisions in the country by making inappropriate remarks about an imaginary political crisis.
“As the Ambassador would be aware, Zimbabwe is currently re-engaging with Western countries, including the United States, which has seen His Excellency President Mnangagwa meeting in Maputo, Mozambique, with United States Assistant Secretary of State Ambassador Tibor Naggy with whom he held very cordial and frank discussions regarding our bilateral cooperation and developments in Zimbabwe,” said the Ministry.
“Furthermore, diplomatic channels for communication of any concerns to the Zimbabwe Government do exist and Ambassador Nichols is encouraged to make use of these, instead of engaging in the megaphone diplomacy of casting aspersions on the Zimbabwe Government and dabbling in local politics including pushing an agenda meant to prop up the fortunes of an opposition, which is trying to sell a dummy to the world, that there is a political crisis in Zimbabwe.”
The Ministry said Zimbabweans are focused on their day-to-day survival and will not be swayed by the sideshows that have become the hallmark of the United States Ambassador.
“The Zimbabwe Government is most desirous of rebuilding relations with the United States but is anxious that some of Ambassador Nichols’ activities are hindering this,” it said.