Ambassador Mutsvangwa: Outspoken or just reckless?

Ambassador Christopher Mutsvangwa, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, recently launched an astonishing attack on his boss Samuel Mumbengegwi and the ministryai??i??s Permanent Secretary Joey Bimha ai??i?? this on live radio. He accused the pair of running the ministry like a ai???ai???fiefdomai??i??ai??i?? and blasted them for allegedly lacking professionalism.

His candour was unprecedented, much to the delight of the radio presenter who kept goading him to say more and more.
He did.

At one particularly uncomfortable moment he, perhaps unwisely, flaunted his liberation credentials and dismissed both Mumbengegwi and Bimha as being effectively ai???ai???juniorai??i??ai??i?? to him.

It is inconceivable that his outburst will go unpunished. However, it seems increasingly unlikely that heai??i??ll be publicly sanctioned.
If Mumbengegwi chooses to be especially cruel he could simply opt to completely freeze out the outspoken diplomat, the very thing that prompted his bitter complaints.

Whatever his fate, it is impossible to ignore the unassailable arguments he raised in that interview.
He rightly asked what Mumbengegwi was trying to accomplish when he submitted the first ladyai??i??s passport. There are two possibilities.
The first being that he knew he would get the visa; this quite clearly is not the case. The second, more likely, possibility is that he was simply trying his chances.

Mutsvangwa argues that the passport should never have been submitted until there were assurances from the Belgians that the visa would be granted.

Soon after the visa was denied Mumbengegwi took the issue to the court of public opinion. It is difficult to imagine what he hoped to accomplish.

He certainly did not win the propaganda battle since the argument ended up being incorrectly characterised as an issue about the first lady as opposed to an issue about delegations.

It was messy and completely unnecessary.
If diplomatic back channels had indicated that the visa would not be granted then it would seem that demanding Eritrea be allowed to attend would have been a more sophisticated way to angle the delegation argument.

It would have insulated the first lady and saved her rather ugly headlines. Mumbengegwi did not do her any favours.
This is the lesser point. More important was Mutsvangwaai??i??s observation that our foreign policy needs to grow less jingoistic.

The Europeans have sufficient leverage to frustrate us in a number of ways, especially if we play into their hands and engage in unproductive hostility.

Telling Europeans that they are silly does not take the skill of a diplomat. Thinking that they are silly but persuasively saying otherwise certainly does.

An observation of Western foreign policy reveals a people skilled at saying the right thing but doing precisely the opposite.
Perhaps Mumbengegwi should be reading from his opponentai??i??s training manual.

The appointment of President Robert Mugabe to the deputy chair of SADC as well as the deputy chair of the African Union burdens us with continental responsibility that requires a more tactful approach.

Surely Mumbengegwi does not think he will hold the business of the entire African continent to ransom if the Europeans decide to keep playing dirty and continue denying the first lady a visa.

Mutsvangwa correctly observes that the Europeans do not want to see Mugabe playing a leading diplomatic role on the African continent, let alone in Africaai??i??s interaction with the west.

Their capitulation on his visa shows that there is no way they can actually stop him from doing this.
The only threat is from within. Mumbengegwiai??i??s boisterous style is creating some very real problems.
Even if he wanted to, Mugabe could not have gone on to attend the EU-Africa summit after all the public noises his minister had made.

Not only so. If the Europeans refuse to back down over the first ladyai??i??s visa it is Zimbabwe that will have to climb down.
Mugabe has responsibilities to SADC and the AU that he must fulfil. His minister has put him in a potentially embarrassing position.
If he must perform some function in Europe and his wife is denied a visa he will be compelled by continental duty to go.

People will immediately ask what has changed. Has the President forsaken his principles?
This potential problem is purely of Mumbengegwiai??i??s making.
Whilst Mutsvangwaai??i??s arguments made a lot of sense it does not mean he was right. It is one thing to be outspoken within the bounds of reason but quite another to go on live radio and insult your colleagues. Such recklessness cannot be applauded.
Mutsvangwa holds public office and he is fully aware of the responsibilities that come with such office.

A CEO cannot go on TV and say his companyai??i??s products are, to be honest, actually pretty rubbish and that the competition is far superior and then claim the defence of freedom of expression.

That would be either very cynical or just plain stupid.
Perhaps Mutsvangwa should take a dose of his own medicine. If he were such a skilled diplomat one imagines he would have found a less raucous way to make his point.

Surely, dressing down Mumbengegwi on such a public forum is the very equivalent of the confrontational diplomacy he accuses him of.
Whilst Mutsvangwa certainly has the right theories, he has sadly proven himself to be a rather poor diplomat in practice. 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  • Chiruzevha Chapera

    I thought he spoke just once…and does it all of sudden make big news to warrant such acres of opinionated analytic space Mr Editor?

  • Mimi

    I beg to differ with writer Silence Muchemwa’s assertions on this issue. For starters Mutsvangwa is not “flounting” anything by lamenting that he is a War Veteran because this is the truth. What of if the Deputy Minister is suffering from Post Traumatic Syndrome and wishes to be heard Secondly, being a Diplomat does not mean that one should suffer in complete silence like a lamb. Diplomats are known to attack each other day in and day out including countries of the World when push comes to shove. The reporter should be reminded that it is not long ago that even President Mugabe himself attacked Masimirembwa in public whilst addressing some party function. What was even more shocking was when it later turned out that the Masimirembwa’s issue had been blown out of proportion. Inotambika. However there are fundamental issues that should be addressed here. 1. There is no need for Zimbabwe Ministries to have Deputy Ministers who are merely there to be paid and have no role to play in the functions of any Ministry. If this is the case then why not do without the Deputy Ministerial posts that could no doubt serve the country millions if not billions of dollars in salaries allowances etc. After all Deputy Ministers never get to act in the absence of their Ministers so why the hell are they there in the 1st place. It is obvious that there should be underlying problems bedevvling the Foreign Ministry and these should be addressed. What is now more glaring is the fact that there could be issues that have been brewing between these feuding parties, that Zimbabweans are not privy to. Be that as it may alleging that one is being reckless irrelevant. Pane nyaya apa. Mistakes were made and these mistakes should not be repeated if country Zimbabwe is to rise from where it is heading as of now. Loosing out on important foras under the guise that one individual has been denied a visa is not a wise move. Zimbabwe’s economy needs to be addressed without mixing political issues, personal opinions or amibitions. Putting it is a nutshell the country should not be held to ransom by a few.

  • Madhara

    Is the minister of Foreign Affairs called Samuel Mumbengegwi?So even the editor can’t see this?On Zimbabwe’s Foreign Policy,we need to realign ourselves and change tactic.I think and suppose soft-power is much better than being aggressive. It does not help.