Zimbabwe: Diplomatic row begins after Mugabe’s funeral comments

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Zimbabwe’s Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi Tuesday summoned three Western ambassadors to his office and demanded an
explanation of their walk out on President Mugabe during his speech at the National Heroes Acre in which he attacked their countries for not removing sanctions.

Mumbengegwi called in United States (US) envoy Charles Ray, Germany’s
Albrecht Conze and the European Union charge d’affaires, Barbra

In a statement to the ambassadors, Mumbengegwi, who met the diplomats
separately at his Munhumutapa offices, said: “I have summoned you to convey our concern and disappointment over your conduct on Sunday, during the burial of the late heroine, Sabina Mugabe.

“Your conduct was therefore very disrespectful to our National Heroes shrine, the heroine who was being honoured and His Excellency the President (Mugabe).

“We are disappointed that you chose such a bad occasion to show your disrespect for Zimbabwe, its leaders, its fallen heroes and its people. This kind of behaviour is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”

The ambassadors left the national shrine Sunday when Mugabe launched
scathing attacks on the EU and the US for not removing the sanctions during a speech at the burial of his sister Sabina.

In their response the ambassadors said in a joint statement they had accepted invitations to Sabina’s burial but earned disrespect in return.

“Honourable Minister, I have heard your statement. I regret that you have chosen to make matters worse by exacerbating a problem created by the Zimbabwean side, rather than attempting to put it behind us,” Ray said on behalf of his colleagues.

“I followed the invitation in order to pay my respects. I earned disrespect in return. It became clear to me during your President’s address that I was not welcome. I had to act accordingly,” the American diplomat said.

Ray said “America will never be treated that way by anyone at any time without my reacting”.

Some embassies have indicated that they would boycott August 9 Heroes Day.

Mugabe, who had in recent times appeared to tone down his anti-Western
rhetoric following his forming a power-sharing government with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai last year, was blistering against Europe and America last Sunday.

He accused the Western powers of maintaining sanctions against him and
his inner circle in a bid to push him out of power.

“To hell with them (West). Whoever told them that they are above the people of Zimbabwe, that the decisions that should be made by the people of Zimbabwe are theirs to make?” said Mugabe.

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