Fungi Kwaramba, Political Editor
FOREIGN Affairs and International Trade Minister Sibusiso Moyo yesterday told United States Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Brian Nichols that the country had no role in the violent protests spreading in the US following the shock murder of an unarmed black man by a white police officer.
This comes after Mr Robert O’Brien, who is the US national security advisor, sensationally claimed that Zimbabwe, along with China and Russia had a hand in the protests that were triggered by the killing of a black man, George Floyd, by a police officer in the city of Minneapolis last week.
The untested claims by Mr O’Brien prompted Minister Moyo to summon Mr Nichols to his Munhumutapa offices to explain to the US diplomat that Zimbabwe does not interfere in affairs of sovereign states.
“The Government of Zimbabwe notes, with astonishment and concern the comments made by Mr Robert O’Brien, US national security advisor, which characterised Zimbabwe as ‘an adversary’ of the United States and which named our country as one-seeking to take advantage of the current unrest situation in the US in order to ‘sow discord and to try to damage democracy’.
“On behalf of the Government, I have today (yesterday) informed the US ambassador that Mr O’Brien’s allegations are false, without any factual foundation whatsoever and that they are deeply damaging to a relationship already complicated by years of prescriptive megaphone diplomacy and punitive economic sanctions,” said Minister Moyo.
The minister reminded the United States that Zimbabwe strictly observes Article 2 (4) of the United Nations Charter which urges nations to respect sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of member states.
“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.”
Since the killing of Floyd, whose death was captured on video while he complained that he could not breath, the US has been engulfed by wildcat protests in most cities as irate citizens voice anger against racism and the general ill-treatment of blacks in the US.
The protests have spread to other western capitals where blacks are still yet to find their voices and often are at the receiving end of police excesses.
The murder of the helpless Floyd triggered global condemnation, with the United Nations and the African Union also demanding justice.
Zimbabwe, which has been under punitive economic sanctions that have caused untold suffering on the general populace since the turn of the millennium, also voiced its concern over the well documented ill-treatment of black Americans in the US.
“Whereas we certainly add our voice to the many others, including that of the African Union and the United nations — who have expressed deep concern at the killing, by a uniformed white police official, of Mr Floyd, an unarmed, handcuffed, helpless black man — we unreservedly condemn the violence, arson and looting which have turned the usually quiet neighbourhoods into scenes of chaos and destruction and where, tragically, further innocent lives have been lost.
“Our fervent hope is that the situation in the US calms down, that civilian law enforcement agencies and the paramilitary units conduct themselves with maximum restraint, that community leaders succeed in persuading their citizens to honour the memory of Mr Floyd by way of peaceful gathering and that no further life is lost,” said Minister Moyo.
While the United States has constantly bashed Zimbabwe when it takes measures to restore order during often violent and unsanctioned protests by raising abuse of human rights claims, protesters in that country are presently at the mercy of law enforcement agents who have made arbitrary arrests which have fuelled more anger.
“With regard to our bilateral relationship with the United States of America, our hope, going forward, is that the US might take a more even-handed and less prescriptive approach; that it might acknowledge the reform efforts being made by the New Dispensation — very significant challenges notwithstanding — and that it might seek to engage in more open, sincere and more practical dialogue about how our nations can work together for the benefit of both nations and peoples.”
Meanwhile, Mr Nichols acknowledged that black Americans still bear the full brunt of racial discrimination and unequal treatment in the US.
“As an African American, for as long as I can remember I have known that my rights and my body were not fully mine . . . In a long, unbroken line of black men and women, George Floyd’s murder was a tragedy that has filled Americans with horror and anger,” said Mr Nichols.
Following the death of Floyd — political analysts have called upon the US, which usually claims to respect human rights, to introspect and end racial profiling and killings of unarmed black people.