Envoy rejects govt assurances


CANBERRA — Zimbabwe’s ambassador to Australia, who has sought political asylum, has hit back at comments by the government that it is safe for her to return home.

Jacqueline Zwambila left her post at the Canberra embassy at the weekend to make the request for asylum.

She says she has been the victim of a smear campaign and she does not feel safe returning home because she is aligned to the opposition MDC-T.

Home affairs minister Kembo Mohadi has been quoted in local media saying the ambassador’s remarks are surprising because all the aleaders of the MDC-T are in Zimbabwe.

But the comments have done little to reassure Zwambila.

“My colleagues in Zimbabwe might be there but they are not safe, it’s well documented what has happened to the members of the Movement for Democratic Change,” Zwambila said.

“We are always under attack from the government of the present regime.

“For him to tell me I am safe when they are the perpetrators of the smear campaign which has been perpetrated against me, what did you expect him to say?

“They never responded once to the smear campaigns which were going against me, they were the ones who were actually feeding their own newspapers.”

The ambassador says she has been overwhelmed with support from the Canberra community since leaving the embassy.

“It is so humbling. I’ve had messages of encouragement from all walks of life, even past prime ministers,” she said.

“In terms of the church, the Anglican Church and other churches and ordinary people on the streets who have come to me and said we pray for you.

“But this is not about me, this is not about Jacqueline Zwambila, it’s about the people of Zimbabwe, the people of Zimbabwe who cannot have their voices heard.”

Zwambila’s post as ambassador to Australia officially ends at midnight on December 31. The Australian government says her application for protection will be assessed on merit according to the normal rules.