Fidelis Munyoro Senior Reporter—
The United States government is the least qualified nation to comment on the human rights situation in Zimbabwe given its international record as the worst human rights violator, Secretary for Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Mr George Charamba has said. Responding to a statement issued by the US embassy in Harare yesterday which expressed concern over the arrest of #ThisFlag leader Evan Mawarire and the incarceration of self-proclaimed pastor Phillip Mugadza, Mr Charamba said the US government was quick to accuse other nations of human rights abuses each time its regime change chess-game was thwarted.
Mr Charamba had no kind words for the US Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Harry Thomas (Jnr) for crossing the red line by criticising the country over the arrest of Mawarire last week.
Mawarire has been charged with subverting a constitutionally-elected Government and if convicted, faces a lengthy prison term. Mr Charamba said whoever issued the statement was not competent to talk about the human rights status in Zimbabwe.
“We are waiting for a cue from a new government,” said Mr Charamba. “Whoever that person is, is a left over from a terrible era. Is it because this person (Mawarire) is their agent?”
He said it was interesting to note that the statement was coming from an official under the immediate past Obama administration whose future was not even certain in the new dispensation.
“He thinks he can boss over us,” said Mr Charamba adding, “They can go and hang on a banana tree.” A legal expert Mr Tendai Toto said Zimbabwe is a functional constitutional democracy with institutions prescribed by the Constitution to guarantee the promotion, recognition and protection of human rights to its citizens and inhabitants.
He said where the State, through the police, has reasonable suspicion that an offence has been committed, due process has been followed.
“It is ordinarily up to the court of law to ensure that suspected criminals are either set free or convicted. But before that is done, it is the duty of the police and prosecution to set the rule of law into motion,” said Mr Toto.
The lawyer said where a matter is sub judice, it was wrong for anybody to pre-empt the fate of the suspected persons. “The comments by the US government can be viewed as irresponsible considering that due process is yet to be administered.”
The US military has held 779 prisoners without trial at the Guantánamo Prison Camp since it opened on January 11, 2002.
In the statement yesterday the United States embassy said it was extremely concerned by ‘‘the continuing deterioration’’ of the human rights situation in Zimbabwe, as evidenced by the unwarranted arrest and continued detention of Mawarire and the incarceration of Mugadza.
The US government also called on Zimbabwe to respect the rule of law and legal due process provided by the Constitution. A political analyst who preferred anonymity said the US government had no mandate to comment on human rights issues the world over, Zimbabwe in particular.
“There is so much muck in the US backyard and the Americans are the least people at the moment to talk about human rights violations when they have not only violated the rights of millions of people the world over but are also killing and maiming even innocent children,” said the analyst.
“Zimbabwe does not need America for it to understand what human rights are,” she said. Several people also posted on Facebook expressing dismay, reminding the US that it committed a heinous crime by imposing illegal economic sanctions on Zimbabwe, hence should keep its nose from Zimbabwean affairs.
Said Mr Simon Massey: “Your sanctions on Zimbabwe are a crime against every single Zimbabwean and until you drop them, you have not right to tell those who rule Zimbabwe what to do.”
Mr Massey said the US’ hypocritical concern for Zimbabweans’ right to free speech should be balanced with the knowledge that itself and Britain have lobbied for boycott, divestment and sanctions on Zimbabwe that do little or nothing to inhibit the freedoms of the wealthy elite at whom they are supposed to be targetted, but harm every single citizen of the country instead.
“Your policies towards Zimbabwe have deliberately crippled the country and curtailed her economy,” said Mr Massey. “The damage blamed in fast-track land reform is the fault of the US, Britain and the European Union sanctions.
“As an example, Zimbabweans with a Zimbabwean paypal account are restricted from earning money through paypal because of USA sanctions! How does this restrict (President) Mugabe and his elite? Are you concerned he might sell some diamonds or some uranium on his paypal account?”
Another Facebook fanatic Mr Edward Ndirangu said the US could not express concern on the situation in Zimbabwe since President Trump assumed office. “In fact, Harare should be expressing concern about the human rights violations being witnessed in the US,” he said.