A MALAWIAN diplomat who once described Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe as an “idiot” will no longer be posted to Harare, Foreign Minister George Chaponda said Tuesday.
Thoko Banda turned down the posting as high commissioner on Monday, but Chaponda told state television that President Peter Mutharika already had “plans to drop Thoko Banda from the diplomatic mission”.
Chaponda said Mutharika was initially “not aware of the remarks he made against Mugabe” eight years ago.
Banda was widely quoted as telling Germany’s The Foreigner magazine in 2006 that “Zimbabwe has an idiot—I am sorry, I know you are recording—but they have an idiot for president.
“This guy Robert Mugabe, I hope that he lives a long time, so that one day he can go before an international tribunal. He is a horrible man.”
Banda, who has served previously as a diplomat in Japan and Germany, said in a statement on Monday he was not consulted on his Harare appointment by Mutharika and was “surprised” to learn of it through the media.
He said he had an “extensive history of effective human rights advocacy and I would never sell out my human rights commitments just for a position”.
Malawi and Zimbabwe, both members of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), have enjoyed cordial diplomatic relations in the past.
According to Chaponda, Mutharika said he would “not allow the relationship to be spoiled because of one person”. – Mail and Guardian