THE rabid attack by Zanu PF acting political commissar Patrick Chinamasa on outgoing United States ambassador to Zimbabwe Brian Nichols, accusing him of plotting to overthrow President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government is yet another typical example of the ruling party shooting the messenger in as far as its re-engagement mission is concerned.
Chinamasa claimed that Nichols was leaving “with a tail between his legs,” accusing him of meddling in local politics and suggesting he was likely not to have a dignified send-off. Chinamasa also branded Nichols a thug.
Nichols arrived in the country in July 2018, shortly before the presidential elections, but has been routinely threatened with expulsion throughout his stay in the country.
The recent and reckless attack on him by a top ruling party official is in stark contrast to government’s recent plea, through Zimbabwe’s envoy to Washington Tadeous Chifamba, for the lifting of sanctions against the Zanu PF administration.
The grandstanding against Nichols, who was the United States point man in the country, is baffling given that Mnangagwa’s administration has poured millions of the scarce foreign currency to pay foreign public relations firms to lobby for the removal of sanctions.
Mnangagwa cannot have his cake and eat it. His administration cannot publicly ostracise American officials and at the same time court them with the aim of having the restrictions removed.
In any case, the United States has on numerous occasions spelt out what Mnangagwa needs to do to have the sanctions removed. These include a raft of reforms on elections and human rights, which should be undertaken by the Zimbabwean government to improve the country’s bilateral relationship with the US and the West in general.
Mnangagwa’s continued failure to reform means that, no matter how loud they bark, the sanctions will remain in force, leaving the re-engagement exercise in the doldrums