Ministers fight over China trip


FOREIGN Affairs deputy minister Chris Mutsvangwa yesterday launched a scathing attack against his boss Simbarashe Mumbengegwi claiming the minister was out to frustrate him.



Mutsvangwa claimed that Mumbengegwi had for a long time, sidelined him on important national duties despite his wide experience on diplomatic issues.

The former ambassador to China, told our sister paper NewsDay that he felt offended last week after he received reports that Mumbengegwi had assigned support staff at the ministry to accompany Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa on a high-powered business trip to China.

The Zimbabwe delegation comprising several government officials including Cabinet ministers and deputy ministers, is expected to leave Harare this week on a mission to scout for investors.

Mutsvangwa said it would have made more sense for him to be part of the team given the wide networks he had created with the Chinese community.

“Zimbabwean diplomacy and national economic goals are best attained when we make full play of the best talent, capabilities and exposure and experience in addressing opportunities and challenges of pressing national tasks,” Mutsvangwa said.

“I sincerely believe that was guiding rationale of President (Robert) Mugabe in his Cabinet and ministerial appointments from elected deputies.”

He added that China, as an economic giant, should be handled carefully by experienced people.

Efforts to contact Mumbengegwi were fruitless as he was reportedly on Mugabe’s entourage to Malawi on Saturday for that Southern African country’s 43rd independence anniversary.

The two Zanu PF ministers have had an uneasy working relationship since their appointment by Mugabe last September.

In April, Mutsvangwa went ballistic and labelled Mumbengegwi and Foreign Affairs secretary Joey Bimha “political novices” saying the two never consulted him on ministerial matters although their offices were close to each other.

Mutsvangwa accused Mumbengwegwi of failing a diplomatic test when he applied for Belgian travel visa for First Lady Grace Mugabe to enable her to accompany President Robert Mugabe to the Africa-European Union summit, knowing well that the application would be rejected.

Predictably, the application was turned down, forcing Mugabe to boycott the summit in protest.

Bimha could not be reached for comment.