Source: US envoy saga: Retraction claims dismissed | The Herald 06 NOV, 2019
Nduduzo Tshuma Bulawayo Bureau
Government has dismissed reports that Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Dr Sibusiso Moyo has retracted or renounced his statement released last week condemning the actions of US Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Brian Nichols.
In his October 31 statement, Dr Moyo criticised Mr Nichols for over-stepping his mandate by dabbling in Zimbabwe’s internal politics in breach of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.
The minister said Ambassador Nichols was engaging in a campaign to discredit Zimbabwe by making counter arguments on the effects of the punitive sanctions on the country.
The timing of Mr Nichols’ campaign coincided with the preparations for the anti-sanctions day on October 25.
But on Monday, some online publications carried a story claiming that Dr Moyo had disowned the statement on Mr Nichols to some diplomats accredited to Zimbabwe.
This was disputed by the spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Mr Shepherd Gwenzi yesterday, who described the reports as mischievous.
“There are Press reports that have come to the attention of the ministry suggesting that the Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Lt Gen (Rtd) Dr SB Moyo disowned the statement he issued on 31 October 2019 on the recent conduct and statements of the Ambassador of the United States of America to the Republic of Zimbabwe His Excellency Brian A Nichols,” he said.
“For the record, the Honourable Minister has neither retracted nor renounced his statement.
“The said reports are mischievous and should be dismissed with the contempt they deserve.”
Dr Moyo said the US Ambassador’s statements violated diplomatic etiquette, were grossly partisan in nature and reflected a worrying lack of respect for the host Government.
“Compounding these statements was the wholly unjustified imposition of US sanctions on the Honourable Owen Ncube, Minister of State Security,” he said.
Dr Moyo said while Zimbabweans are welcoming, tolerant and friendly people, it would be a mistake to misinterpret the qualities to mean weakness or that the Government would ignore or tolerate any form of insult and abuse.
“International law helps us to draw a line between the function which a diplomatic mission may exercise and those that it may not.
“Furthermore, it establishes that, as sovereign nations, all countries in the world enjoy equal rights and protection.
“Clearly, the convention does not permit embassies to conduct themselves like opposition citadels, pre-occupying themselves with the constant casting of aspersions, innuendo and even insults at the host Government,” said Dr Moyo.
“It follows, therefore, that the conduct of any diplomat which is openly inimical to the promotion of friendly relations is far removed from the core objectives of the convention and cannot simply be ignored.
“Any conduct that violates the generally accepted and legally recognised functions of diplomats, constitutes the abuse of diplomatic privilege.”
Dr Moyo said no diplomat should allow themselves to behave or conduct themselves like a member of the opposition, with complete disregard for diplomatic protocol.
He said it was unacceptable for the ambassador to portray as fact unsubstantiated allegations or rumours against the Government, some of which would still be under investigation by law enforcement or other Government agencies.
“Persistent behaviour of this nature will test the patience of even the most tolerant among us.
“It would be a very sad day if dialogue between the US Embassy and this ministry, and Government more broadly, were to collapse completely under its present leadership, such that we would end up just ignoring or even avoiding each other. We genuinely seek dialogue with all well-meaning countries as part of our re-engagement efforts. But our openness and innate generosity of spirit of all Zimbabweans should not be taken for granted and should certainly not be abused,” said Dr Moyo.
“We have means to bring this to an end, should we deem it necessary or should we be pushed too far.”