Ambassador Zwambila returns to her posting in Australia

The MDC-T appointed ambassador to Australia, Jacqueline Zwambila, has returned to her posting in Canberra Australia, after she was recalled recently for debriefing in Harare.

Zwambila was facing allegations that she stripped in front of male embassy staff, accusations she has vehemently denied. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has now recalled the three male staffers because theyve completed their required four year terms at the mission.

Ambassador Zwambila had a meeting today (Wednesday) with the Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, to explain in detail what was happening at the embassy because of persistent squabbles between her and junior staff, a source told us. The three male staffers are reportedly all loyal to ZANU PF, while the ambassador is one of five diplomats appointed around the world from the MDC. The other four are Hebson Makuvise, Ambassador to Germany; Hilda Mafudze, the former MDC MP for Manyame constituency, was posted to Sudan; Khumbulani Mabed is in Nigeria; Trudy Stevenson from the MDC-M is Ambassador to Senegal.

While the other four ambassadors have good working relationships with their junior staff members, it was not the same for Zwambila in Canberra, where the male staffers were hostile and went on a sustained campaign to discredit her. The relationship between the Ambassador and her staff was irretrievably broken down by persistent leaks from inside the embassy that sought to undermine and discredit her. Most of these leaks eventually found their way into the state media, a situation which infuriated her. This led to a heated confrontation with the male staffers, the source added.

After this confrontation the three staffers, Moses Chikanyairo, Givemore Nyanzou and Felix Nyamupinga (husband to ZANU PF MP for Goromonzi, Biata Beatrice Nyamupinga) dispatched a note to Harare accusing the Ambassador of stripping in front of them. Former diplomat and academic, Clifford Mashiri, said it had happened before that intelligence officers, disguised as counsellors, had undermined their ambassadors.

If there is rivalry or animosity between the ambassador and his staff you will get a lot of this infighting. In the case of the Australian mission you have staff that are loyal to two separate political parties, which makes it difficult for them to co-exist, Mashiri said.

Mashiri said it is common practice for diplomats to be recalled for a debriefing if there are serious issues raised from the embassy. He said at times the host country may discreetly push for the diplomats to be recalled if they are facing allegations that end up in the public domain. Those facing more serious offences, like espionage, may end up being expelled by the host country. In the case of the Australian debacle, the ministry responded by recalling the Ambassador and ordered her and the male staffers to compile reports of the incident.

What came out from the reports was clear that it was a case of the male staffers words versus the Ambassadors. In hindsight, they gave the ambassador the benefit of doubt as the most senior diplomat at the embassy. After her meeting with Joey Bimha, the permanent secretary last week, it was decided the Ambassador should go back to her post but not before meeting with Mumbengegwi today (Wednesday), our source said. Mumbengegwi reportedly read Zwambila the riot act, warning her to be careful in her future conduct. He also told her the ministry would be sending a team of new diplomats to Canberra.

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