Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter
Government is engaging host countries to ensure Zimbabwean public officials receive adequate security when on international duty where they continue to be hounded by individual opposition-aligned elements, a Cabinet minister has said.
Government has since condemned the continued humiliation of its officials while outside the country, with the latest target being Speaker of the National Assembly, Advocate Jacob Mudenda, who was harassed by a pro-opposition activist last week while attending the 141st International Parliamentary Union (IPU) in Serbia.
The activist, Simba Chikanza, who is based in the United Kingdom, uses social media-based ZimEye to publish malice about Zimbabwe and the new dispensation.
He ambushed Adv Mudenda while he was having breakfast at his hotel and demanded to know why he directed the deduction of five months’ salary for MDC-Alliance MPs for boycotting President Mnangagwa’s State of the Nation Address (SONA)delivery early this month.
Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi told The Herald that Government would engage Serbia to understand the circumstances under which Adv Mudenda was abused.
“That was an abuse of other people’s rights. As Government we condemn the behaviour in the strongest terms,” he said. “We also believe that host governments must accord officials the protection and respect they deserve. This is a case of a thug abusing other people and it is something that we will engage the host countries through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, whenever our officials are out of the country,” said Minister Ziyambi.
The abuse of Adv Mudenda followed asimilar incident directed at Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Dr Sibusiso Moyo, who was attacked outside the Royal Institute of International Affairs, commonly known as Chatham House, in London in July this year.
Minister Moyo was in England leading a Zimbabwean delegation on a re-engagement programme to strengthen bilateral relations and to woo investment to Zimbabwe.
As he left Chatham House, a group of Zimbabwean protesters charged at the minister and his security details, with one of the protesters spraying him with water from a bottle as he got into his designated vehicle.
The harassment of Adv Mudenda, according to sources at Parliament, followed a letter written by the MDC-Alliance to the IPU protesting his decision to deduct the opposition MPs’ allowances.
According to a video which has gone viral, Chikanza charged at an unsuspecting Adv Mudenda, to the surprise of onlookers.
“Why are you mentally torturing MDC MPs?” he asked the Speaker. “On what basis do you withdraw their allowances for five months merely because they are protesting about what you had brought to Parliament?”
Adv Mudenda’s appeal to him that he was bringing issues on a wrong platform went unheeded as Chikanza went on to accuse him of human rights abuse.
Buhera North MP Cde William Mutomba (Zanu-PF) tried to calm down the militant Chikanza with little success.
Chikanza also refused to be restrained by hotel staff.
“I have a legal matter here, you have all my details, profile, address, you can call the manager, you can also call the Serbian government,” said Chikanza.
Sources at Parliament said the harassment of Adv Mudenda coincided with the letter written by MDC-Alliance to IPU complaining about the deduction of their allowances.
“The MDC-Alliance wrote a letter to IPU complaining about the five months’ deduction of allowances. The harassment of Adv Mudenda is, therefore, not surprising,” said a source.
Questions have also been raised on why Serbian authorities failed to protect Adv Mudenda.
In May this year, The Herald reported that a group of shadowy organisations from Zimbabwe with links to the opposition MDC-Alliance got military training in Maldives, Serbia and Czech Republic with the aim of causing civil unrest in the country.
It was reported that the youths got training in the Maldives, which was being conducted by Centre for Applied Non-Violent Action and Strategies (CANVAS), a Serbian organisation which trained MDC activists who were involved in the coordination of the January 14-16 violent protests.