By Costa Nkomo
United States of America Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Brian Nichols has told President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government to end State-sponsored rights violations by taking a leaf from his own government which took responsibility through arrest and prosecution of a police officer who killed an unarmed black citizen, George Floyd, last week.
Floyd’s murder has sparked mass protests across the US and has drawn global condemnation.
Zimbabwe, accused by the US of gloating over the riotous situation on its territory, was Sunday labelled a foreign “adversary” by White House National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien.
This angered Mnangagwa’s government forcing Foreign Affairs minister Sibusiso Moyo to summon Nichols for a word or two.
However, emerging from the meeting, the top US diplomat was defiant, telling the Zimbabwean government to emulate his country by holding to account all those implicated in human rights violations.
“Mr. Floyd’s killer was charged with murder in days. Every American official from our President to Minneapolis African American Police Chief Medaria Arradondo has vowed to deliver justice.
“Zimbabweans surely wonder when, after so many years, Patrick Nabanyama, Itai Dzamara, and Paul Chizuze will get justice? Americans will continue to speak out for justice whether at home or abroad,” Nichols said.
Nabanyama, an MDC activist, disappeared without trace after being abducted at the beginning of Zimbabwe’s current political turmoil in 2000.
Although declared dead, his remains were never found. Dzamara, a journalist and human rights activist was abducted by suspected State security agents near his home in Glen View, Harare in 2015 and his whereabouts remain unknown again. Chizuze, a leading human rights activist has been missing since 2012.
Nichols further questioned why the Zimbabwean government had arrested the three MDC Alliance youth female members in Harare West MP Joanna Mamombe, Cecilia Chimbiri, and Netsai Marova for taking part in a peaceful protest in Harare mid-May over worsening food shortages during the current lockdown.
“Both America’s and Zimbabwe’s constitutions enshrine the right to free speech and peaceful protest. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline.
“Yet peaceful protesters Joanna Mamombe, Cecilia Chimbiri, and Netsai Marova were arrested, abducted, assaulted and left for dead.
“To those who deny America’s right to speak out their fate, let me remind you, ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere’… Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
However, on his part, speaking after the meeting, Moyo said Harare was equally concerned by the double standards shown by the US in its foreign policy approach.
“At the same time, we recall the harsh US criticism and condemnation of our own response to multiple instances of illegal, violent civil unrest incited, largely, by opposition political formations determined to render the country ungovernable, we recall their automatic presumption of State culpability in instances of alleged abduction, and their assumption of an institutionalised disregard for human rights or rule of law within our government and we reflect in the lack of balance and even the double standards so evident in US policy towards Zimbabwe,” Moyo said.
He urged Washington to rein in law enforcement agencies to exercise restraint when responding to protests in their territory.
“I informed the ambassador that Zimbabwe seeks a normal, cooperative relationship with the US-based on mutual understanding, mutual respect and non-interference in each other’s internal affairs. The very opposite of the characterisation voiced by the United States.”