MEDIA STATEMENT ON MS JACQUELINE ZWAMBILA’S ‘POLITICAL’ ASYLUM REQUEST
The Embassy of the Republic of Zimbabwe takes note of several recent articles that appeared in the media, both print and electronic, indicating that Zimbabwe’s former Ambassador to Australia, Ms Jacqueline Zwambila had sought political asylum in Australia on the grounds that her life was “in danger” if she returned to Zimbabwe at the end of her tour of duty on 31 December 2013. The former envoy is quoted to have also suggested that she would face persecution upon her return to her home country by the government due to her political activism and opposition to the party of President Robert Mugabe. She also asserts that ZANU PF Government was “illegitimate and had stolen the July 2013 elections”. Additionally, she alleged that there “was a sustained campaign” against her by her staff during her tour of duty.
It is quite amazing and most unfortunate to hear such fabrications and falsehoods being peddled by a person who once held an esteemed position in government. That she chooses to denigrate her own government and country for sheer political expediency indeed smacks of the highest order of dishonesty.
Ms Zwambila’s theatrics should be dismissed unreservedly on the following grounds:
Firstly, Ms Zwambila was Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to Australia for almost 4 years and she received a generous salary, allowances and other privileges befitting an accredited diplomat from the Government of Zimbabwe over that period. She was well aware that her tour of duty would end upon the expiry of her employment contract. It is therefore surprising that her life suddenly became in danger after she had been recalled back home along with other 20 Zimbabwean Ambassadors serving in other countries at the end of their terms.
Ironically Ms Zwambila, who is today claiming that she risks being “persecuted” if she goes back home, was a regular visitor to Zimbabwe, travelling twice or three times a year and her latest visit to Zimbabwe being in July 2013, during the election period. When she returned from Zimbabwe she told her staff at the Embassy that the July elections went well. Further, prior to receiving her recall notice, she was even planning to visit Zimbabwe for Christmas and New Year holidays. In fact Ms Zwambila had put in place a calendar of events for the Mission for 2014 that included her taking an Australian business delegation to Zimbabwe. It would seem that the recall has had the net effect of denying her the opportunity to continue enjoying the luxuries and privileges of diplomatic life. It is now a simple case of sour grapes.
If indeed the ZANU PF Government in her conviction was “illegitimate”, the honourable thing she should have done was to resign immediately after the elections. Why did she continue to serve in her capacity as a “representative of an illegitimate government” for over five months after the July 31st elections and not feel threatened then? In the same vein, more interesting is the fact that the former ambassador even sent congratulatory messages to over a dozen ZANU-PF Government Ministers and Members of Parliament following their party’s election victory. But now she is claiming that the July election was “stolen” just because she received a notice of recall.
Secondly, Ms Zwambila’s own political party, the MDC-T, has since issued a statement categorically stating that Ms Zwambila’s application for political asylum in Australia was purely “personal”. Simply translated, Ms Zwambila is pursuing an agenda that is void of her presumed “political activism” as she suggest. Ms Zwambila might be seeking to hoodwink the Australian authorities and members of the public to believe her concocted allegations of political persecution.
Thirdly, in November 2010 Ms Zwambila made headlines over her unbecoming behaviour as an ambassador when she stripped naked in her office in front of three male officers. The facts and truths have not changed. She stripped naked in her office on Thursday, 11 November 2010. She must not apportion blame on non-existent “state agents” but herself for engaging in such a deplorable act which is inconsistent with normal behaviour.
While she might feel she has been vindicated by the Australian courts, it is without doubt that the true documented facts were never presented to the Australian courts in that the incident happened in the Zimbabwe Embassy Chancery and thus under diplomatic convention it happened on Zimbabwean soil. In essence, Australian courts have no jurisdiction on matters that occur in diplomatic premises, in this case the Zimbabwean Embassy Chancery, unless those concerned have had their diplomatic immunities waivered by the sending state so that they can appear in local courts. Her claim of vindication is therefore without substance.
Fourthly, on Ms Zwambila’s allegations of sabotage by members of her staff during her tour of duty, the Embassy categorically dismisses these unfounded allegations with the contempt they deserve. On the contrary, the Embassy staff in Canberra and our Head Office in Harare tried their level best to assist her to learn how to manage the diplomatic ropes. Among other things, she was even counselled to refrain from hogging unnecessary media limelight at the expense of the Embassy’s core business. The staff at the Embassy are civil servants and thus, apolitical and are strictly required to work with any ambassador, regardless of his or her political affiliation, who is appointed by Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe to represent Zimbabwe abroad. It is to be noted that the only individual at the Embassy who belonged to a political party was the Ambassador herself.
Lastly, regarding Ms Zwambila’s remarks in which she despised the state of the Embassy Chancery building describing it as “poky”, the Embassy wishes to express its profound regret to the Australian property owner over these unfortunate and misplaced comments by a person of the stature of ambassador. To put it on record, it is Ms Zwambila who after her accreditation in March 2010 insisted on leasing that same property that she is now condemning in such derogatory terms.
As Ms Zwambila’s political asylum drama continues to unfold, the Australian public and the diplomatic community in Canberra should expect to hear more sensational claims from her as her desperation to stay in Australia, by hook and crook, mounts.
While it would be unconventional to argue in public with a character that has chosen to lie profusely about her life and political situation in Zimbabwe, the Embassy of the Republic of Zimbabwe has found it necessary to correct these unfounded notions being peddled by Ms Zwambila and to protect the Australian public and authorities from being further misinformed. It is within her rights for Ms Zwambila to opt to continue staying in Australia beyond her tour of duty, but in doing so she must not employ indecent and dishonourable ways to prolong her stay in Australia.
Embassy of the Republic of Zimbabwe
2 January 2014