CANBERRA — Former Zimbabwean ambassador to Australia Jacqueline Zwambila, who is seeking political asylum in that country, yesterday made sensational claims that her former deputy, Felix Nyamupinga, had also sought asylum in the host country for reasons yet to be known.
Nyamupinga is the husband of Zanu PF Goromonzi West MP, Beatrice Nyamupinga.
Zwambila, who was posted to Australia as a top Zimbabwean envoy on an MDC-T ticket during the tenure of the inclusive government, told United States-based private radio station Studio 7 that Nyamupinga recently applied for political asylum after he was recalled by President Robert Mugabe’s government.
She accused Zanu PF officials of “blowing” her issue “out of proportion” while keeping silent on Nyamupinga’s application.
Zwambila said her decision to seek foreign asylum was triggered by fears of political persecution back home following the end of her diplomatic mission this week.
“Did the government ever talk about it (Nyamupinga’s alleged request for asylum)? No. Why has he asked for political asylum when his wife is a Zanu PF parliamentarian?” she queried.
“But when I request for asylum I am labelled a fool. Is this selective memory for Zanu PF that their own people are seeking asylum? When genuine people like me submit asylum papers, they go on to say my safety is guaranteed back home.
“Zanu PF functionaries undermined me a lot. My life was hell, hell, hell at that embassy. This is the same government that started a terrible campaign against me. They even refused me permission to open the diplomatic bag. They know why.”
The former diplomat, however, did not mention when Nyamupinga made the application or whether it was successful.
Another MDC-T envoy, Hebson Makuvise, has reportedly sought political asylum in Germany where he was ambassador, also citing security reasons.
But in an interview with NewsDay yesterday, Nyamupinga’s wife rubbished the allegations, saying her husband never sought refuge in Australia, adding that the diplomat had since returned home.
“All I can say is that he is there at work at Munhumutapa Building (Foreign Affairs ministry offices) as we speak,” she said before turning down further questions.
Officials at the Foreign Affairs ministry also confirmed Nyamupinga was back at the ministry where he was now in charge of Americas, which deals with embassies in the US, Canada and Latin America.
Zwambila was recalled recently alongside several other diplomats following the end of their tour of duty.
Meanwhile, an Australian expert in refugee and diplomatic law has said granting asylum to Zwambila was likely to work in Australia’s favour in the long run.
Australian National University academic Susan Harris Rimmer, however, pointed out: “Any asylum claim should be assessed on its own merits, based on fact, and, thanks to refugee conventions, should not affect Australia’s political relationship with Zimbabwe.” –Canberra Times/Staff Reporter