via Bulawayo24 NEWS | Mumbengegwi mum on fight with Mutsvangwa 18 July 2014
Foreign Affairs minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi has remained tight-lipped on the tiff with his deputy Christopher Mutsvangwa that has spilled into the public domain.
Mutsvangwa accused Mumbengegwi and ministry chief bureaucrat, permanent secretary Joey Bimha of side-lining him, characterising them as diplomatic novices.
The Zimbabwe Mail sought Mumbengegwi’s comment during a press briefing on Zimbabwe’s preparations to host the upcoming Sadc summit set for mid-August. The veteran diplomat sharply retorted: “This brief is about Sadc and not on internal administration issues within the ministry.”
Mutsvangwa on Thursday refused to say much saying: “I have said enough on the matter.”
The fight took a sinister twist amid reports yesterday that Mumbengegwi had struck Mutsvangwa off the list of resource persons meant to capacitate new diplomats to be deployed to various stations around the world.
“He was one of the resource persons but the minister ordered us to remove his name. The people who will lose are those who were supposed to benefit, not Mutsvangwa. I think it has gone out of hand now and something needs to be done,” a source in the Foreign ministry said.
The fall-out was triggered by President Robert Mugabe’s boycott of the European Union/Africa Summit that was held in Brussels, Belgium, in early April, with Mutsvangwa describing the decision as a “victory for Britain” in an unrestrained attack on his boss during a live interview on a private radio.
“I personally felt that Mugabe should have attended the summit. His absence is a victory for Britain as it did not want to see the global statesman (Mugabe) on an international forum,” Mutsvangwa charged. “Zimbabwe has issues with Britain and other European countries. The summit could have afforded his Excellency (Mugabe) an opportunity to network with other European countries that are warming up to us.”
Mumbengegwi had announced that Mugabe would not attend the summit because Brussels had denied First Lady Grace Mugabe a visa to accompany the President.
Mutsvangwa criticised the way Mumbengegwi handled the First Lady’s visa application.
“That was undiplomatic. That was unprofessional. I would not have embarrassed our First Lady in this manner. We have intelligence and the foreign ministry should have gathered information before submitting her passport for a visa application,” he charged. He accused Mumbengegwi and Bimha of making unilateral decisions without consulting him.
“There are two people who make decisions in the ministry. My office with that of Mumbengegwi is next to each other, but I am not informed. He makes the decision with the permanent secretary who stayed here at home during the time of the liberation struggle. In fact, he ended up joining the civil service during the Abel Muzorewa regime,” Mutsvangwa claimed.
Last week Mutsvangwa was once again shooting from the hip after Mumbengegwi allegedly denied him a chance to travel with Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa to Asian economic giant China. Mutsvangwa is a former Zimbabwean representative in China before he was unceremoniously recalled.
The deputy minister claimed Chinamasa had asked Mumbengegwi to include him on the delegation because of his “vast knowledge” of the Chinese socio-political and economic fabric, but his boss had without reason shot the request down.