Nichols should stop interfering in Zim affairs

by Innocent Mujeri

The United States ambassador to Zimbabwe Brian Nichols’ continued interference to the Zimbabwe’s internal affairs has reached alarming levels with the ambassador now behaving like a prefect with the task of telling the Government how to govern. The US ambassador seems to have forgotten his core business in Zimbabwe as in recent weeks he has increasingly been tweeting supporting anti-government activists. One cannot help but wonder if Nichols frenzied behavior, is rooted in diverting attention from the recent mucky US election, which more than a week has passed without a clear winner.

Nichols’ recent tweets have been insinuating that the Zimbabwe’s judiciary system is captured by the State, hence they cannot pass fair judgments on individuals on trial.

Yesterday, the US embassy in Harare fronted by Nichols tweeted that the denial of bail against Hopewell Chin’ono is an issue that “should concern every Zimbabwean”. He further insinuated that “the constitution mandates the presumption of innocence and impartial justice – both of which have not been respected” in the case of Chin’ono. Nichols is forgetting that Chin’ono was once given bail, but he breached his bail conditions, the very reason, he was arrested again.

Nichols has also been misleadingly alluding that Chin’ono has been arrested because he has been exposing corruption cases in the country. Nichols and all those bent on propagating this lie are wrong because no one has ever been arrested in Zimbabwe for exposing corruption. If journalists were to be arrested for exposing corruption, then Zim Morning Post journalist, Elias Mambo, was supposed to be the first behind bars because, he has exposed a number of corruption cases in the country.

Nichols seems to have forgotten that he is in Zimbabwe to strengthen diplomatic ties between Harare and Washington and because of that, he should stop behaving like an opposition activist. Nichols should also know that his continued interference in Zimbabwe’s internal affairs is a breach of international law, in particular the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations (VCDR).

The US ambassador should by now know that Zimbabwe is an independent and democratic country that doesn’t need the US to tell it what to do. Instead of interfering to our internal affairs, Nichols and other US surrogates should stop their subversive politics and start treating Zimbabwe as a sovereign country with the capacity to manage its own affairs.

Nichols should also be reminded that Article 41 of the VCDR  clearly states that diplomats must not only interfere with the internal affairs of receiving states, but also outlaws the turning of embassies into citadels of evil regime change plots.

“Without prejudice to their privileges and immunities, it is the duty of all persons enjoying such privileges and immunities to respect the laws and regulations of the receiving State. They also have a duty not to interfere in the internal affairs of that State.

“All official business with the receiving State entrusted to the mission by the sending State shall be conducted with or through the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of the receiving State or such other ministry as may be agreed,” reads the Article.

Article 41 of VCDR further reads that, “premises of the mission (Embassies) must not be used in any manner incompatible with the functions of the mission as laid down in the present Convention or by other rules of general international law or by any special agreements in force between the sending and the receiving State.”

Surprisingly, the US Embassy premises have been turned by Nichols into a place where politics of toppling the Zimbabwean Government are mooted. It is the same place where agents of regime change and Government critics always go to receive instructions on how to cause mayhem in the country. If the country’s detractors are not going to US Embassy to get instructions from Nichols, it is Nichols who will be visiting these detractors in their homes with the agenda of equipping them with new skills on how to frustrate the New Dispensation. It is not a secret that Nichols made clandestine visits to Job Sikhala’s house to psyche him for more protests in 2019. It’s not only Sikhala who was visited by Sikhala, but there are reports that he visited people like Nelson Chamisa, Hopewell Chin’ono and Jacob Ngarivhume just to poison them against the Government.

It’s also worrying that Nichols has reduced himself to a political activist instead of respected diplomat. If Nichols continues to interfere in Zimbabwe’s internal affairs, the Government will be left with no choice, but to expel him from Zimbabwe. Article 9 of VCDR also allows a receiving State to expel a wayward diplomat.

“The receiving State may at any time and without having to explain its decision, notify the sending State that the head of the mission or any member of the diplomatic staff of the mission is persona non grata or that any other member of the staff of the mission is not acceptable.

“In any such case, the sending State shall, as appropriate, either recall the person concerned or terminate his functions with the mission. A person may be declared non grata or not acceptable before arriving in the territory of the receiving State.

“If the sending State refuses or fails within a reasonable period to carry out its obligations under paragraph 1 of this article, the receiving State may refuse to recognize the person concerned as a member of the mission,” reads Article 9 of VCDR.

One may also wonder why Nichols is still interfering with the internal affairs of Zimbabwe considering that his stay in Zimbabwe is hanging by a thread after the embarrassing defeat of Donald Trump by Joe Biden. Nichols is in Zimbabwe at the mercy of Trump and the change of administration in the US is likely to see Nichols being recalled by the incoming Biden administration. No wonder Nichols is exhibiting the kicks of a dying horse, he wants to wind up his mission in Zimbabwe by straining further the relations between Zimbabwe and America. He is doing so only to pour cold water on President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s re-engagement policy where the New Dispensation is in a bid to mend relations with its yesteryear foes.

It’s either Nichols will behave as a diplomat or continue with his wayward behavior and risk being expelled from Zimbabwe. After all, he will not be the first diplomat to be declared a persona non grata. Last year, the US had to recall its ambassador to Zambia, Daniel Foote, after Zambia had threatened to expel him for interfering in that country’s internal affairs. If Nichols fails to reform in time, he risks following Foote’s footsteps.