Zimbabwe, Country, or Parody?

Zimbabwe Scolds, but Does Not Expel, U.S. Ambassador

In the surreal world, on page WaPo A19 (meaning really hidden)

Zimbabwe’s foreign minister chastised U.S. Ambassador Christopher W. Dell on Wednesday but stopped short of expelling the envoy for giving two speeches last week in which he blamed the “corrupt rule” of President Robert Mugabe for the country’s troubles.
Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, the foreign minister, …….

I will not even attempt to pronounce the Foreign Ministers’ name. I guess I’m as stupid as the “President”

On Tuesday, Mugabe was even more blunt. “You can tell him that I can’t spell Dell, but I can spell hell,”

More on the US Ambassador

Dell, who became ambassador in August 2004 [ed., Professional Foreign Service, so not a political hack], drew the ire of Mugabe on Oct. 10 by straying into a restricted area of a botanical garden near the presidential residence. Dell was briefly detained and later publicly accused by government officials of intentionally provoking a diplomatic incident. U.S. officials said the intrusion was a mistake caused by a lack of clear signs setting off the restricted zone.

Now, I will admit having a US Ambassador wandering about a park alone in an excuse for a country is definitely odd, but I have lived in a very safe country were I would sometimes see the US Ambassador shopping alone (and sometimes with her husband) [ed., yes I’m making excuses. This does sound odd; I’m surprised he goes anywhere without a Marine guard. But a “Restricted” botanical garden near the presidential palace also sounds odd]. Previous reports said he was lucky not to be shot. Weird.

Tensions escalated dramatically last week after Dell gave two speeches in which he accused Mugabe’s government of causing Zimbabwe’s economic collapse, chronic shortages of food and fuel, hyperinflation and an unemployment rate estimated at 70 percent.
“The Zimbabwe government’s own gross mismanagement of the economy and its corrupt rule has brought on the crisis,” Dell said, according to a transcript of the Nov. 2 speech provided by the U.S. Embassy.

That isn’t exactly a secret. Note the transcript was readily provided, and the Commonwealth has condemned Mugabe’s racism. I find his actions against Asians and Caucasians repugnant.

The top leadership of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) were still in prison on Wednesday after being arrested ..

More here

Government-owned newspapers reported that more than 150 union activists, including top officials, were arrested Tuesday after protesting in Harare and the eastern city of Mutare, in violation of Zimbabwe’s laws restricting political activity.

This looks like a pathetic attempt to divert attention away from internal failures. But something just isn’t right.

FILED UNDER: Africa, Congress, Uncategorized, World Politics, , , , , , , , , , ,
Richard Gardner
About Richard Gardner
Richard Gardner is a “retired” Navy Submarine Officer with military policy, arms control, and budgeting experience. He contributed over 100 pieces to OTB between January 2004 and August 2008, covering special events. He has a BS in Engineering from the University of California, Irvine.


  1. DL says:

    Life was so much better when it was just plain old Rhodhesia.

  2. John Burgess says:

    A couple of points, please:

    First: Ambassadors don’t have USMC guards. That’s not what the USMC Security Guards at embassies are for. They have a very specific mission to protect classified documents and equipment. They can also works to save lives in immediate danger, but being bodyguard doesn’t fall into that category.

    Once the classified stuff and lives are secured, the USMC can let the buildings burn.

    For personal security, ambassadors depend first on the local government and then on contract security guards. Those parties are also responsible for the general security of the exterior of an embassy property.

    Second: Not all political appointees are “hacks.” Nor is a career in the foreign service a guarantee of an excellent ambassador. The best and the worst ambassadors I’ve worked with were political appointees. And some of the career people, though obviously with talents, didn’t necessarily have the talent to be ambassador. Ambassadorships within the career foreign service can sometimes be handed out as rewards for other services, not for brilliance in the subject matter.

  3. Elizabeth says:

    Mr Burgess,
    to your first point; what about security for the common citizens of Zimbabwe, don’t they need their lives saved by the muderous, tortures and criminal acts undertaken by thugs on behalf of the government.
    And to you second point; yes any political system will have its own rotten eggs but why its the whole government, including the “president” something must be done.

    Elizabeth Abraham