The US government has summoned Zimbabwean ambassador Innocent Mutembwa for an explanation following ruling party Zanu PF’s insults and threats to expel US ambassador to Zimbabwe, Brian Nichols.
Addressing a press conference in Harare on Monday, Zanu PF’s spokesperson, Patrick Chinamasa branded Ambassador Nichols a thug, accusing him of meddling in Zimbabwe’s internal affairs.
Tibor Nagy, the top US diplomat for Africa said “comments from Zanu-PF – while sadly not surprising – are deeply offensive.”
“We have summoned the ambassador of Zimbabwe to explain,” he wrote on Twitter.
Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration has been cracking down on activists after a call for demonstrations on Jul 31 in the impoverished nation.
Among those arrested have been documentary filmmaker Hopewell Chin’ono, who helped expose a multimillion-dollar corruption scandal involving the procurement of coronavirus supplies.
The United States has criticised the arrests, with Nagy earlier calling on Zimbabwe to “uphold the people’s constitutional rights to freedom of political expression and freedom of the press.”
Zimbabwe’s leaders have long alleged foreign plots as they wrestle with allegations of corruption and an economy that has struggled with eye-popping hyperinflation.
Brief hopes in the United States for an improvement in conditions in Zimbabwe after the 2017 ouster of veteran authoritarian leader Robert Mugabe have faded.
In a rare meeting last year, Nagy urged Mnangagwa to hold security forces accountable for violence against protesters. (Source: CNA)