via Legislators fume over Grace’s visa snub – DailyNews Live by Chengetai Zvauya 26 MARCH 2014
Zanu PF MPs yesterday objected to the European Union (EU)’s decision to deny First Lady Grace Mugabe a visa to attend the EU – Africa summit in Belgium next week.
The legislators registered their protest during a hearing of the parliamentary portfolio committee on Foreign Affairs chaired by Enoch Porusingazi that was receiving oral evidence from Joey Bimha, permanent secretary in the ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Lawmakers asked Bimha to take up the matter with Sadc and other African leaders.
The EU-Africa summit is set for Belgium from April 2-3.
“This committee finds it very strange that our First Lady Grace Mugabe is being denied a visa to attend EU-Africa summit next week. We want to express our concern on that issue and we are in solidarity with her and can our government act on that matter?” Porusingazi said.
Bimha said his ministry had taken up the matter with the African Union (AU) and EU leaders.
“We know that there is a committee which is now handling the matter and has been dispatched to Belgium from Addis Ababa in Ethiopia,” Bimha said.
“The African leaders support President Mugabe, that he should be allowed to choose his own delegation for the summit, so we are going to wait to hear from them.
“We would want the summit to be postponed if we are being dictated to over who must attend or who must not.”
EU ambassador to Zimbabwe, Aldo Dell’Ariccia, has said only those with a role to play in the meetings had been invited.
“We have invited those with a role to play in the meetings and the programmes of the meetings do not have any role for spouses,” he said.
“Since she is under restrictive measures the host country (Belgium) has to seek a greenlight from the EU for her to attend. The EU has to reach a consensus but in this case that has not happened.”
But legislators said Mugabe had the right to pick his delegation to the summit. Earlier, African leaders had threatened to boycott the summit after the EU had overlooked Mugabe in the invites.
“The issue was dealt with by African leaders at a summit in Ethiopia where it was agreed that every African leader should be allowed to attend the summit, and Mugabe was to be on the list,” Bimha said.
“We submitted our list of delegations with our names and passports to EU to have visas and they are now denying the First Lady her visa, which is wrong. We have decided to take up the matter further and we are now waiting for the outcome of the meeting in Brussels of our appeal.”
Bimha said EU had decided to invite Egypt which is facing sanctions from the AU, leaving out other countries such as
Sudan, Eritrea and Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic which are recognised by the AU.