via Govt plays ‘sympathy card’ in Mumbengegwi diplomatic row | SW Radio Africa by Nomalanga Moyo on Tuesday, October 8, 2013
ZANU PF has been accused of “playing the sympathy card” in the ongoing diplomatic tiff over the perceived humiliation of Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi in Washington last week.
The ‘humiliation’ involved Mumbengegwi being forced to go through airport security like all other ordinary passengers, despite applying for the VIP service from the US Department of State, which was reportedly granted.
However, officers at the airport entrance claimed that they had no instructions to extend any diplomatic privileges to the minister and treated him as a common traveller, subjecting him to a thorough body search.
Following the incident, the government last week summoned American envoy to Zimbabwe, Bruce Wharton, to explain this “degrading experience.”
“We have called him for explanations,” Joey Bimha, secretary for Foreign Affairs, told the Daily News newspaper Monday.
Other ZANU PF officials are already calling for retaliatory treatment on the US deputy assistant secretary of State for African Affairs, who is expected in Zim next week.
But observers have dismissed this as just talk. Political commentator Rejoice Ngwenya said he did not understand why Mumbengegwi would expect preferential treatment anyway.
“Personally I believe there is nothing really special about a foreign affairs minister. These diplomatic privileges are just fringe benefits that are extended to these officials that don’t really mean much.
“We know that there is bad blood between Zimbabwe and the US and this is just an extension of that narrative especially after what Mugabe said at the UN meeting and the US’s refusal to recognise the outcome of the July 31st elections.
“This is just public relations for the Zim government who are playing the sympathy card and trying to find any reason to poke the American government,” Ngwenya said.
He added that the government should be strengthening its engagement efforts with the West rather than making headlines with trivial complaints about being treated as commoners.
Former education minister David Coltart shared Ngwenya’s sentiments and in a post on his Facebook Wall, said: “Not sure what all the fuss is about here – as a Minister I always went through security checks at foreign airports.”