President Emmerson Mnangagwa has claimed that he had to be persuaded to go to the British embassy in Harare to sign the book of condolences following the death of Queen Elizabeth 11 earlier this month.
The Herald newspaper reports that Mnangagwa made the remarks while addressing ZANU PF supporters in the United States where he attended the United Nations General Assembly. He is quoted as saying:
I said Zimbabwe can never walk to the United Kingdom or to the embassy, … I cannot violate the territory of the United Kingdom; at the time we were in Angola.
When the Queen (Elizabeth II) passed on recently, I was invited to go and write my condolences at the British Embassy in Harare. So my Foreign Affairs (and International Trade) Minister (Ambassador Frederick Shava) went there and he told me that the Australian and Canadian ambassadors were there waiting for me to come.
I then sent a message to the Foreign Affairs Minister to come back because I was not going there.
The reason is, the United Kingdom imposed sanctions on us and we cannot go to the United Kingdom because of sanctions, so I said in terms of international conventions, the Embassy is a territory of the United Kingdom and I didn’t want to breach those sanctions.
We insisted until we got a formal invitation saying that I can go to the embassy and that I will not be contravening anything. He (Ambassador Shava) persuaded me to go, I then went to the embassy to sign the book of condolences.
Thereafter, I received a formal invitation to the funeral. I said I had assigned my Ambassador (to the United Kingdom Colonel Christian Katsande) to represent Zimbabwe at the funeral.
I then sent a message through him that I am upgrading my representation from Ambassador to Minister, so I sent the Minister. I am saying this because we should not be moved around like little boy.
In terms of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, embassies and consulates are legally considered the territories of the countries they represent.
The UK imposed sanctions on Zimbabwean entities and some individuals at the turn of the millennium following the fast-track land reform programme that was marred by “gross human rights violations.
The ZANU PF government, SADC and the African Union claim that the sanctions are to blame for the southern African country’s economic problems but critics say the regime ruined the country through economic mismanagement and corruption.