WASHINGTON DC —
Zimbabwe’s outgoing ambassador to Australia Jacqueline Zwambila, who is seeking asylum in Canberra, has rejected assurances by Harare that her personal safety will not be threatened if she should return home.
Zwambila, a member of the MDC-T, filed for Australian refuge last week claiming that returning to Zimbabwe when her diplomatic duty ends this week will put her life in jeopardy.
But Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi dismissed the ambassador’s fears as baseless, adding that if she has any personal security concerns, she should inform the State, whose mandate he said was to ensure everyone’s safety.
In a rejoinder Monday, Zwambila rebuffed Mohadi’s assurances, telling the Australian public broadcaster ABC the statements can’t be sincere because the minister is part of the Zanu PF apparatus that has allegedly denigrated her over the past four years.
"For him to tell me I am safe when they are the perpetrators of the smear campaign which has been perpetrated against me, what did you expect him to say?" she queried.
"They never responded once to the smear campaigns which were going against me, they were the ones who were actually feeding their own newspapers.
"My colleagues in Zimbabwe might be there but they are not safe, it's well documented what has happened to the members of the Movement for Democratic Change."
Further afield, Harare’s top envoy to German Hebson Makuvise, also an official of the MDC-T, says he will comment next week on reports he is also seeking asylum.
But he suggested the reports were not true - or just yet.
A diplomatic source in Harare appeared to back Makuvise’s version, telling VOA they were “pretty sure, although not 100 percent” that the ambassador had not submitted any asylum papers.
Zimbabwe Exiles Forum chairman Gabriel Shumba, who is himself a victim of the Zanu PF government, weighed in on the Zwambila case.
"There are people who have previously been assured that if they come back home they will no longer face persecution; for example Roy Bennett," Shumba said.
"He even went on to be guaranteed safety by the then-President of South Africa Gkalema Motlanthe, but when he returned he was politically targeted and was eventually forced to flee the country.
"So this simply means that guarantees of safety from the Zimbabwean government are not worth the paper they are written on."