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Mugabe keeps envoys guessing


PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has kept at least four envoys from European capitals unaccredited months after they arrived in the country, citing a busy schedule.



Diplomatic sources told NewsDay this week that one of the diplomats awaiting accreditation had to seek refuge in his house during an official function at his country’s embassy in Harare.

“The German ambassador-designate had to hide in his house during his country’s national day commemorations as the reception went on in the garden,” an impeccable source said.

“Other ambassadors waiting for accreditation are from Sweden, France and Portugal.”

Foreign Affairs permanent secretary Joey Bimha confirmed the situation.

“This is a very bad period and the President has been tied up with universities’ graduations as well as international engagements. He has been travelling a lot and that has made it difficult for us to find a way around the issue,” he said.

“But we are trying to find time. We had provisionally set December 1, but given the fact that the President is travelling to Cuba, which was not originally planned, that date would have to be moved as well.”

Mugabe’s international trips have been so frequent that during the first quarter of 2016, he had already gobbled over $50 million in foreign travel in a country that can hardly afford rudimentary medical supplies.

NewsDay heard that Mugabe had rescheduled the accreditation ceremonies at least five times since August.

“So far, Mugabe has scheduled the accreditation ceremony over five times and cancelled. The deputies are holding fort, as acting ambassadors, but you can imagine that some of them are now getting restless. With Christmas coming up, the whole thing has messed up contingency planning,” a source said.

“The Portuguese guy has been here since 2014 as chargé d’affaires (a diplomat who heads an embassy in the absence of the ambassador) and has since been promoted so he cannot be seen in public before he is accredited.”

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