WASHINGTON DC —
The Australian government says it is assessing asylum papers submitted by Zimbabwe Ambassador to Australia, Jacqueline Zwambila, who is seeking political asylum in the country claiming that she will be persecuted by President Robert Mugabe’s government if she goes back home next week.
Australian Immigration Minister Scott Morrison told the Shanghai Daily that he will judge Zwambila’s request for asylum on its merits.
Mr. Morrison said the Australian government does not normally discuss individual asylum cases as it can prejudice their case or put them at risk.
As a result, he said it is inappropriate to provide more details on this issue.
Announcing her defection, Zwambila accused the Mugabe government of targeting her and stealing this year’s disputed elections won by Zanu-PF.
Her Movement for Democratic Change formation says Zwambila’s decision to seek political asylum after the expiry of her term is personal.
It says the MDC will not make any decision in her seeking asylum because the party is unable to redress her genuine concerns and fears.
“The ill-treatment that she received at the hands of the State and State agents while on a national tour of duty as Zimbabwe’s representative to Australia are well documented. After the accusations, the Zimbabwean government also made separate investigations and found the allegations to be unfounded. The false allegations of indecorous behaviour were proved to be false in the courts and one of her attackers, Reason Wafawarowa has been ordered by the court to pay damages to her for peddling falsehoods in the media.
“After the accusations, the Zimbabwean government also made separate investigations and found the allegations to be unfounded.”
The allegations were that Zwambila undressed at the Embassy infront of staff members following conflicts in the Canberra office over the publication of reports on the Embassy website calling for the opening of a diplomatic bag said to have contained smuggled diamonds and the lifting of sanctions against MDC-linked companies and not those with close ties with Zanu PF functionaries.
The MDC’s position is that the onus to protect citizens including top government officials, like Ambassador Zwambila, lies with the government of the day “and it is very worrying that the Zanu PF government is failing to do so. It is the prerogative of the government of the day to give assurances of security to Ambassador Zwambila, that her life is not in any form of danger if she is to return to Zimbabwe.”
Political commentator Nkululeko Sibanda of Huddersfield University in London says Australia is likely to grant Zwambila political asylum.
The Ministry of Foreign affairs says the ambassador did not officially communicate her position to the government.