GOVERNMENT yesterday summoned diplomats representing the United States of America in Zimbabwe and reprimanded them for meddling in the country’s domestic affairs.
This follows the unprecedented and shocking move by some diplomats based at the US Embassy in Harare to lecture Zimbabweans on the country’s electoral processes even before election monitors are invited to observe the polls, whose dates are yet to be proclaimed.
By dabbling in the country’s internal affairs, the USA is in breach of the Vienna Convention governing the conduct of diplomats, and there have been calls for the exclusion of the US from observing the forthcoming elections from various quarters.
Ambassador Rofina Ndakaziva Chikava
However, in the Second Republic spirit of engagement and re-engagement, acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Ambassador Rofina Chikava, yesterday met with the Chargé D’Affaires of the US Embassy in Zimbabwe, Ms Elaine French, at her Munhumutapa offices in Harare.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade summoned the Chargé D’Affaires after the US Embassy issued several election-related social media posts via Twitter on 26 May 2023.
“The most notable post was captioned: ‘Register to vote and make sure your voice is heard,’ among other tweets which had been made a few days before.
“Ambassador Chikava said the conduct by the US Embassy was unacceptable as it deviated from conventional diplomatic norms and values enshrined in the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations (1961),” said the Ministry spokesperson Mr Livit Mugejo.
“The Ministry also called on the US Embassy to refrain from posting such messages in the spirit of re-engagement between our two countries.”
He said during the meeting with the Mission’s Chargé D’Affaires, Ambassador Chikava underscored Government’s commitment towards holding a peaceful, free and fair election, in line with President Mnangagwa’s clarion call.
“Ambassador Chikava took the opportunity to highlight Zimbabwe’s preparations for the harmonised elections. These include voter registration and education, delimitation of constituencies and wards and the ongoing inspection of the voters roll, in line with country’s constitution.
“Despite Zimbabwe’s strong commitment towards holding a peaceful, free and fair election, Ambassador Chikava however, expressed concern over the Mission’s election related-social media posts, bordering on activism and meddling in Zimbabwe’s internal affairs,” said Mr Mugejo.
Ms Elaine French
The Foreign Affairs and International Trade spokesperson said in her response, Ms French acknowledged Government’s concerns and reiterated her Mission’s commitment to improve its communication in line with expected diplomatic conduct.
Mr Mugejo said she further expressed optimism in the continued collaboration between Zimbabwe and the USA.
He said Zimbabwe views the USA as an important cooperating partner in its development goals, in line with the engagement and re-engagement policy.