Friday, May 28, 2010

Zimbabwe Ambassador Clashes With U.S. State Department Official in Washington, D.C.

Zimbabwe Ambassador Clashes With U.S. State Department Official in Washington, D.C.

By Tichaona Zindoga
Zimbabwe Herald

Zimbabwe’s Ambassador in Washington, Mr Machivenyika Mapuranga, on Tuesday publicly clashed with United States Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson whom he accused of acting like a "house slave".

At a reception to mark Africa Day in Washi-ngton to which African diplomats invited Carson, Ambassador Mapuranga and embassy staff ended up walking out in disgust after the American government official "spoke in a denigrating manner on the continent, and Zimba-bwe in particular".

While US media, such as the Washington Post, tried to blame Ambassador Mapuranga for the public fallout, it has emerged that Carson’s behaviour at the reception had left several African diplomats shocked by American attitudes towards the continent.

Ambassador Mapuranga walked out of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel — along with other Zimbabwean Foreign Service staff — as Carson addressed the diplomats.

Carson had alleged that Zanu-PF officials were hindering democracy, cracking down on the "opposition" and failing to honour their Global Political Agreement obligations.

"In Zimbabwe, the ruling Zanu-PF Govern-ment officials continue to hinder democracy through harassment of the opposition and civil society and failure to honour their obligations to open the political space as called for in the Global Political Agreement," Carson claimed.

Ambassador Mapuranga immediately objected and reminded Carson that Zimbabwe was a sovereign state.

"Now you are talking like a good house slave. We will never be an American colony, you know that!" he charged.

In a telephone interview from Washington yesterday evening, Ambassador Mapuranga said he was surprised Carson could not even stick to the theme of this year’s celebrations, which was "Peace and Security through Sport".

"He chose to speak like the emperor’s representative," Ambassador Mapuranga said.

"He was categorising African states into black sheep and white sheep, or rather sheep and goats.

"He spoke divisively against the spirit of the African Union.

"When he came to Zimbabwe and said Zanu-PF was hindering progress in the inclusive Government, I couldn’t stand it.

"I was enraged and I told him that he was talking like a house slave," Ambassador Mapuranga said.

"I had to remind him that Zimbabwe would never be an American colony."

Ambassador Mapuranga accused Carson of going against the spirit of the AU that fully endorsed Zimbabwe’s inclusive Government.

Ambassador Mapuranga said he would continue to push for an end to all forms of illegal sanctions against Zimbabwe, saying: "It is part of my job here."

Referring to the "amended" version of the discredited sanctions law as tabled before the US Congress by three legislators — the Zimba-bwe Transition to Democracy and Economic Recovery Bill — Ambassador Mapuranga said the US had admitted its sanctions were hurting ordinary people.

"(George W) Bush and now the (Barack) Obama administrations didn’t want the world to know there were sanctions against Zimbabwe.

"They wanted to refer to the Executive Order by the US president which is renewed every March against certain individuals.

"They did not want the world to know about the real sanctions," he said.

The Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic

Recovery Act, signed into law in 2001 by ex-president Bush, among other things, bars Zimbabwe from accessing funding or credit lines from multilateral organisations in which Washington has voting rights.

ZDERA also outlaws American state or private trade with Zimbabwe until land tenure patterns revert to pre-1998 levels when a handful of whites held virtually all the best arable land.

Ambassador Mapuranga said the new Bill tried to narrow a "broad frontal attack on Zimbabwe" to a more specific goal.

"The idea is to pour money into ministries under the MDC to increase the party’s profile while no cent will be channelled to ministries under Zanu-PF," he said.

Senator Russ Feingold, who sponsored ZDERA, is co-sponsoring the new legislation with senators John Kerry and Johnny Isakson.

At an AU Summit in Libya, last year, President Mugabe described Carson as an idiotic little fellow for trying to lecture Zimbabwe on how to conduct affairs of State. Carson, who had requested a meeting with President Mugabe on the sidelines of the Summit, had not shown willingness to understand the real Zimbabwe situation despite having all the facts presented to him.

Carson, a career African-American diplomat, served as US ambassador to Zimbabwe from 1995 to 1997, and ended his tenure just before the bilateral dispute with Britain flared up.

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