The Zimbabwe Government yesterday called to order the United States ambassador to Zimbabwe, ‘Mr Brian Nichols’ for violating the Vienna Convention which governs diplomatic missions, as he is dabbling in local politics through pushing an opposition agenda.
Instead of peddling falsehoods of a non-existent crisis, the Government said Mr Nichols should use his position, as a diplomat stationed in Zimbabwe, to call for the removal of illegal sanctions that his country imposed on Zimbabwe in blatant disregard of international law.
Mr Nichols, who told a South African publication that the Zimbabwean Government does not respect human rights, has consistently turned a blind eye on the political reforms that the Second Republic has instituted including the re-engagement and dialogue platforms that President Mnangagwa has availed to both local and international players.
His position, which dovetails with the opposition agenda that there is a crisis in Zimbabwe, is however, at variance with the situation obtaining in the country, where President Mnangagwa has opened his doors for dialogue to parties that lost the 2018 elections in the spirit of nation building.
In a statement, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade said Mr Nichols was engaging in “megaphone diplomacy” through making baseless statements in the media so as to cast aspersions on the Second Republic and its efforts towards achieving Vision 2030.
“The Zimbabwe Government once again expresses its utter dismay at the actions by the United States Ambassador Mr Brian Nichols in continuing to make disparaging public comments and attacks on the Zimbabwe Government’s political and economic programmes in clear violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, which governs the rules for the exchange and treatment of envoys between States, as well as their behaviour.
“This is despite a reminder from the Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Affairs in October 2019 that such activities were at variance with the obligations placed on a diplomatic mission, representative or agent of a foreign government by the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations to respect the rules of diplomatic conduct,” the statement from Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade reads.
“Furthermore, diplomatic channels for communication of any concerns to the Zimbabwe Government do exist and Ambassador Nichols is encouraged to make use of these, instead of engaging in the megaphone diplomacy of casting aspersions on the Zimbabwe Government and dabbling in local politics including pushing an agenda meant to prop up the fortunes of an opposition which is trying to sell a dummy to the world, that there is a political crisis in Zimbabwe. The truth of the matter is that there simply is no such crisis in Zimbabwe.”
The ministry said allegations by Ambassador Nichols of a country in turmoil were without grounding, adding that a forum for national dialogue already existed and it was up to those who remain outside to join it.
“Ambassador Nichols’ actions are objectionable and stand in contravention of Diplomatic Missions’ obligations under the Vienna Convention. The Ambassador has a responsibility to carry out his legitimate functions without unduly attacking the Zimbabwe Government. He is therefore urged to cease forthwith any actions which result in not only further harming relations between Zimbabwe and the United States, but are also a flagrant violation of protocol, etiquette and the basic tenets of the Vienna Convention,” said the ministry.
The Government said Zimbabwe, like most countries, is grappling with the Covid-19 pandemic, effects of Cyclone Idai, droughts and the debilitating effects of the illegal sanctions that have bled the country of millions.
“Contrary to claims by Ambassador Nichols that Zimbabwe lacked democracy and that the Government ignored human rights, Zimbabwe actually has a vibrant democracy which is buttressed by a free Press and an independent judiciary and the Government respects the rights of Zimbabweans.”
Government’s record in fighting corruption is well documented and Ambassador Nichols was aware of cases of several former Government ministers and senior officials on trial for corruption, said the ministry.
The ministry said as a local diplomat Ambassador Nichols should be able to focus on several developments the Government has embarked upon to improve the economy.
The ministry said Zimbabwe was currently undertaking a re-engagement drive with Western countries including the US as evidenced by President Mnangagwa’s meeting last year in Mozambique with United States Assistant Secretary of State Ambassador Tibor Naggy with whom he held very cordial and frank discussions regarding bilateral cooperation and developments in Zimbabwe.