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Demystifying SB Moyo’s heavy worded statement in Zimbabwe’s re-engagement process with America

By Marshall Bwanya

A lot of Zimbabweans did not know how to react to government’s heavy worded letter to the world’s most powerful nation United States of America (USA) last week.

Zimbabwe’s foreign affairs minister, Sibusiso Moyo (Photo by AFP)
Zimbabwe’s foreign affairs minister, Sibusiso Moyo (Photo by AFP)

A heavy worded letter by none other than 2017 coup announcer, soldier and Foreign Affairs Minister Sibusiso Moyo that fell short of declaring war has been cited as a direct shift from President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s reengagement agenda to the former isolated regime of late state leader Robert Mugabe.

Moyo threatened the US ambassador with expulsion if he continued to ‘meddle’ in Zimbabwean politics.

Moyo’s statement read: “No diplomat should allow themselves to behave or to conduct themselves like some kind of opposition member, with complete disregard for all norms of permissible diplomatic protocol.

“Persistent behaviour of this nature will test the patience of even the most tolerant among us.”

However, speculation quickly made rounds on social media that alleged Moyo had disowned the statement saying he got that post from the Office of the President for him to read and how it ended up on his Twitter handle was a mystery.

Outspoken journalist Mduduzi Mathuthu wrote on his Twitter handle:

“SB Moyo has been pleading his case with western diplomats, says he didn’t write that statement on US ambassador but received it from Emmerson Mnangagwa’s office to read. Whatever the case, the regime is &**$#%%#₩d!” he said.

Before the dust had settled another statement emerged from the Ministry of Information on behalf of Foreign Affairs minister Sibusiso Moyo rubbishing social media reports that he (Moyo), had disowned the heavy worded jibe aimed at USA ambassador Brian Nichols.

The statement read: “On the recent conduct and statements of the Ambassador of United States of America to the republic of Zimbabwe, his Excellency Brian A Nichols.

“For the record, the honourable Minister has neither retracted nor renounced his statement. The said reports are mischievous and should be dismissed with the contempt they deserve.

This raised speculation and conspiracy theories, peddled on social media and other public platforms, insinuating that the statement had stifled any re-engagement efforts with Washington.

Information, Media and Publicity Services permanent secretary Nick Mangwana however, said there was a secret conversation between Washington and Harare to mend relations though a public statement was issued generating public views that they was a rift between Zimbabwe and USA.

“The issue of an Ambassador being admonished is normal in the diplomatic circles were if a hosting nation feels that an ambassador is going outside armpit of his mandate then a conversation will take place, a conversation may take place in secret or in the diplomatic corridors or publicly.

“The conversation took place in secret but a statement was issued and you can’t say you’re wrong, you shouldn’t have meddled and then say I have withdrawn that because no one withdrew.

“Government is sincere about re-engaging with America. It doesn’t benefit us not to engage with America. We have to accept that America is a very powerful country it controls a lot of things, and it has power which covers a lot of things. Economically, it’s a major player in the IMF, World Bank, and even African Development Bank.” he said.

South African based University of the Witwatersrand Lecturer Dr. William Mpofu castigated Moyo for sounding either too rich or too ignorant to appreciate what the majority of Zimbabweans are going through politically and economically.

By speaking like a spokesperson of a super-power when Zimbabwe was at its knees.

Dr Mpofu described Moyo’s statement as a metaphor reflecting the incompetence and impunity of the present political establishment in Zimbabwe.

A blow for Zimbabwean citizens desperate for political and economic normalcy. Dr. Mpofu argued that Moyo’s statement was undiplomatic and disruptive of the promised re-engagement process.

“Zimbabwe will continue to be classified as a dark and primitive country of ignoramuses, and the axis of evil.

“Re-engagement will not be possible under the present establishment. Zimbabwe will be a laughing stock, a small troubled country pretending to be a super-power.

“The present government must first engage with Zimbabweans; deal with its legitimacy crisis, provide a platform for healing and reconciliation after a genocide and political violence,” he said.

Dr Mpofu said President Emmerson Mnangagwa must publicly bathe himself of his genocidal past and reputation for large scale corruption before attempting to convince the world about reforms.

The Witwatersrand Lecturer advised the current administration to engage with the Nelson Chamisa led opposition MDC or remain a faction leader that cannot be taken seriously by the world.

Youthful political analyst Richard Mahomva argued that Foreign Affairs minister Moyo’s statement was spot on as the USA was a super power that in the past had displayed symptoms of regime change..

Mahomva claimed that America would remain imposing sanctions on Zimbabwe as long as ZANU PF was at the helm because their agenda was regime change.

The youthful political analyst argued that America had a tendency of using its political and economic muscle to bully and intimidate Zimbabwe.

Mahomva heaped praises on the Foreign Affairs ministers arguing that Moyo displayed enduring political value as far as our anti-sanctions predisposition is concerned as a country.

“Look to assume that the sentiments attached to the pronouncements by Dr. SB Moyo have got consequences assumes that America is a bigger power that can erode the sovereign parameters of Zimbabwe and erode the international law values that it has already eroded in the past so as to intimidate Zimbabwe.

“It would have been naive for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs not to make clear castigations against the unruly and undiplomatic behaviour of the US convoy in Harare.

“I strongly feel that the sentiments that were presented by SB Moyo are a critical reflection of the fact that we are more aligned to the immediate regional interests in ordaining what SADC had pronounced,” he said.

Harare based Tuck-shop owner Trust Mashiri bemoaned that government was not sincere enough to re-engage with America and lobby for the removal of sanctions that exposed citizens to unbearable economic conditions

“Government is flip flopping by issuing heavy-worded statements that further strain relations with America. The Americans they insult are the same people they go to with a begging bowl asking for a bail out. It is because of such statements when they go abroad they face resistance.

“Our government should engage America in a diplomatic way, after all their names are on the targeted list,” he said.

A Harare based vendor who identified herself as Grace said the recent comment by Foreign Affairs minister Moyo exposed divisions within government.

“The recent statement by the Foreign Affairs Minister clearly exposes that there are divisions and contradicting discourses within government.

“I personally believe that those in power do not have a united resolve to which policies to implement in governing this country as also evidenced by earlier contradicting statements made by Reserve Bank Governor and Finance Minister concerning the ‘new currency’,” she said.

Our government is currently at loggerheads with American government over the implementation of reforms and the rise of wanton unconstitutional human rights abuses. Nehanda Radio