Barwe denied US visa to accompany Mugabe
By Gift Phiri
HARARE – The US embassy in Harare has denied ZBC News chief correspondent Reuben Barwe a visa to travel to the 67th session of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly currently underway at the UN Headquarters in New York.
Zimbabwe has reacted angrily to the invocation of the travel ban against Barwe and accused the United States of abusing its position as the host of the UN by denying a visa to the ZBC ace. Barwe was scheduled to travel with President Robert Mugabe who left Harare Wednesday night for New York.
The US traditionally waivers travel bans to allow leaders on the US embargo such as Mugabe to travel for the world body meeting. Barwe was denied a visa because he is on the US sanctions list.
Foreign Affairs minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi has protested to the UN Committee on Relations with the Host Country saying US authorities were misusing the country’s status as the seat of the UN headquarters as “political leverage to advance your political agenda against Zimbabwe.”
He said it was “nothing short of calculated political intimidation and pressure” which he said “impairs the very foundations of multilateral diplomacy.” Mumbengegwi cited the UN Charter, which says all member states and their delegations are supposed to have access without hindrances to the headquarters of any UN organ.
The US embassy in Harare had not responded to Daily News questions seeking comment on Barwe’s visa denial at the time of going to print. It is the second time Barwe has been barred from the US, after the 2010 debacle in which he was again denied a visa together with Central Intelligence Organisation director-general Happyton Bonyongwe.
As the host of UN headquarters, the United States has pledged to issue entry visas to officials from UN member states, though it can and does deny entry permits to foreign officials for many reasons, such as failure to meet deadlines or provide proper documentation, or if espionage is suspected.
The US has imposed “narrowly targeted sanctions” on specific high level individuals and their families in Zimbabwe, accused of undermining democracy and crushing the Zimbabwean people’s civil liberties. Over 200 individuals, including Mugabe, have their assets frozen in America. Daily News