By Tererai Karimakwenda
SW Radio Africa
30 June, 2014
The storm created by the European Union’s Ambassador to Zimbabwe, after his controversial statements saying there is no leadership crisis in the country, has now turned from anger to calls for the EU to recall him and appoint a new diplomat.
Ambassador Aldo Dell’Ariccia shocked many Zimbabweans and other observers earlier this month with comments he made at a meeting in Harare, when he suggested “progress has been made and Zimbabwe is now a normal, peaceful and democratic state”.
He also blasted civil society and the political opposition parties, accusing them of being “anchored in the past” and being perceived as “anti-government organisations (AGOs)” rather than “NGOs” or non-governmental organisations.
Angry reactions to Dell’Ariccia’s comments came fast and harsh and from all corners of Zimbabwean society, and there is now a call for the EU to recall the ambassador and replace him with a “non-partisan” diplomat.
Leading the call is the respected scholar and writer Pius Wakatama, who criticised the EU for its re-engagement with the Mugabe regime and Dell Ariccia for his comments, in an opinion piece in The Standard weekly newspaper.
Wakatama told SW Radio Africa that “those who think” were quite upset by the comments, because it is unlike the EU to take that stance praising ZANU PF as though the country is at peace and all the problems that existed are over.
“How can he say everything is normal and we have peace in Zimbabwe and we have a leader who has managed to keep at bay these forces that are very much contradictory. Which forces was he talking about? He is talking about democratic forces,” Wakatama said.
The writer explains that the EU’s motives have changed since the days when the grouping imposed targeted sanctions on Zimbabwe and was highly regarded for being “a bastion of freedom, justice and fair play”.
Wakatama said these high values started being slowly tarnished: “The EU and the African forces for democracy have been working very well. It is only since they started moving towards embracing the ZANU PF government, and of course this is for financial purposes, that there is conflict,” Wakatama said.
He explained that the Chinese are busy getting minerals from Zimbabwe and do not worry about human rights and democracy. They are gaining a lot from deals with Zimbabwe while the EU is not. Now the EU has chosen financial gain over democracy.
The writer said if the EU is to regain the respect of Zimbabweans and the world, they must recall Dell’Ariccia and appoint someone who is more “professional, tactful and non-partisan in their approach to diplomacy.