A team of former US diplomats and academia want one of its leading educational institutions Harvard University to revoke the honorary ambassadorial role it gave Zimbabwe’s first Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa.
This follows her appointment as Harvard Ambassador three days ago.
The petitioners include
Ambassador (ret) Harry Thomas
United States Ambassador to Zimbabwe (2015-2018), Ambassador (ret) Bruce Wharton United States Ambassador to Zimbabwe (2012-2015),
Ambassador (ret) Charles Ray United States Ambassador to Zimbabwe (2009-2012), Ambassador (ret) Christopher Dell
United States Ambassador to Zimbabwe (2004-2007), Ambassador (ret) Michelle Gavin United States Ambassador to Botswana (2011-2014), Ambassador (ret) John Campbell Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations, Ambassador (ret) William M. Bellamy Co-Chair, Zimbabwe Working Group, Chester A. Crocker, Former Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Dr. Todd Moss Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Grant Harris Former Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for African Affairs, Steven Feldstein Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, Nicole Willett Former Director for African Affairs, National Security Council, Jon Temin Former U.S. State Department Policy Planning Staff Co-Chair, Zimbabwe Working Group, Emily Renard Former U.S. State Department Foreign Affairs Officer, Co-Chair, Zimbabwe Working Group Amanda Glassman Senior Fellow, Center for Global Development MSc Harvard School of Public Health and Jeffrey Smith Founding Director, Vanguard Africa.
The letter was addressed to Harvard Global Health Catalyst Director Dr. Wilfred Ngwa, Havard President Lawrence Bacow Lawrence Bacow
and Dr. George Daley who is Dean in the Faculty of Medicine.
“We collectively write to you today with profound concern over your decision to honor the First
Lady of Zimbabwe, Auxilia Mnangagwa, with an honorary ambassadorship as part of your
otherwise noble institutional efforts to increase access to women’s health and to reduce
healthcare disparities in the developing world. To be blunt, your well-intentioned work in these
areas are tainted by the affiliation with Ms. Mnangagwa and her direct personal connection to an
increasingly corrupt and abusive administration in which tolerance for dissent is nonexistent and
democratic rights are violently denied,” read the letter.
The team disdainfully spoke of the recent abduction of Zimbabwe Hospitals Doctors Association acting President Dr Peter Magombeyi.
“According to credible human rights organizations – both
domestic and international – more than 50 government critics and activists have been abducted in
Zimbabwe over the past nine months.
The most pertinent example is that of Dr. Peter Magombeyi, president of the Zimbabwe Hospital
Doctors Association, who “disappeared” on September 14 and was discovered five days later,
left on the side of a road, disoriented, and suffering from the effects of torture. According to local
reports, among the acts of violence committed against Dr. Magombeyi – while he was in the
custody of suspected state agents – was the use electroshock torture,” they said. “While the case of Dr.
Magombeyi is indeed alarming, his ordeal is merely the latest in a raft of disappearances carried
out in Zimbabwe, over the course of several decades, and since President Mnangagwa seized
power in a November 2017 military coup.”
The collective told Havard to annul the ambassadorship.
“In light of the concerning situation in Zimbabwe, we implore your institution to exercise due diligence in this matter and to consider rescinding this honor to First Lady Mnangagwa – anhonor that should be reserved for those who are truly deserving of such recognition,” they said explaining, “Too often, repressive regimes will use international institutions, like Harvard University, to launder theiroppressive practices and overall reputations. Already, the announcement of this honor has been used in Zimbabwean state media to provide a veneer of ill-gotten legitimacy for an exceedingly authoritarian regime – one in which prominent health professionals, like Dr. Peter Magombeyi,are being forcefully abducted from their homes and tortured with impunity.Please reconsider your decision. We look forward to engaging with you on this important matter.”
This call is similar to one made in 2017 which saw the late Former President Robert Mugabe revoked of his World Health Organisation (WHO) ambassadorship a few hours after being given.