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Diplomatic Incident As Zimbabwean Ambassador Heckles Top State Dep't Official

Security guards escorted Zimbabwean Ambassador Machivenyika Mapuranga and embassy staff out of the Ritz-Carlton event as he continued to shout that Zimbabwe would never be an American colony, sources present said

Relations between the Washington and Harare have been on the mend, but former hostilities resurfaced this week as Zimbabwean Ambassador Machivenyika Mapuranga heckled U.S Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson at a dinner commemorating the founding of the Organization for African Unity.

Addressing the African diplomatic corps at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel on Tuesday evening, Carlson said the officials of the ZANU-PF party of President Robert Mugabe continued to hinder democratic reform by harassing the former opposition and civil society and failing to honor their obligations under the Global Political Agreement for power sharing.

Sources said the Zimbabwean ambassador, seated at a table in the hotel ballroom, heckled Carson, at one point declaring that Carson, who is an African-American, was “talking like a good house slave."

Security guards escorted Mapuranga and embassy staff out of the event as he continued to shout that Zimbabwe would never be an American colony, sources present told VOA. Fellow African diplomats booed Mapuranga and some told VOA they were shocked by his behavior. One diplomat with the Southern African Development Community said Mapuranga should have protested officially to the State Department instead of getting carried away.

VOA could not reach Mapuranga or Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Samuel Mhango for comment.

Last year President Mugabe referred to Carson as “an idiot,” accusing the US diplomat of being condescending to him during a brief conversation at an African Union summit in Libya.

Sources said some officials on the ZANU-PF side of the Harare government believe President Barack Obama has not departed from what they describe as the hostile attitude of the previous U.S. administration.

International affairs expert David Monyae told Blessing Zulu that Mapuranga’s remarks were inappropriate.