BULAWAYO – The United States warned its “foreign adversaries”, including Zimbabwe, that they would not get away “for free” with jabs aimed at America following the killing of a black man by a police officer who chocked him with his knee.
Robert O’Brien, a top U.S. security adviser to President Donald Trump, singled out China, Iran and Zimbabwe as some of the countries that have been “fomenting unrest” following the May 25 killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
“I’ve seen a number of tweets from the Chinese today that are taking pleasure and solace in what they’re seeing here,” O’Brien told ABC News.
“I want to tell our foreign adversaries, whether it’s a Zimbabwe or a China, that the difference between us and you is that that officer who killed George Floyd, he’ll be investigated, prosecuted, and he’ll receive a fair trial.
“The American people that want to go out and protest peacefully, they’re going to be allowed to seek redress from their government, they’re not going to be thrown in jail for peaceful protesting. There’s a difference between us and you.”
Zimbabwean government officials, under fire at home for human rights violations including the May 13 abduction and torture of three female MDC activists, have sought to draw comparisons with the U.S. police killing.
George Charamba, the spokesman for President Emmerson Mnangagwa, put out more than 60 tweets since May 26, most of them an exercise in whataboutism, seeking to justify Zimbabwe’s terrible human rights record including police brutality, abductions of political rivals and attacks on journalists, based on Floyd’s killing and the fallout.
The United States has imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe since 2001, stating that the country posed an “unusual and extraordinary threat to the foreign policy of the United States.”
The United States embassy in Harare has recently ratcheted up the rhetoric, demanding that Zimbabwe investigates the recent abduction of Harare West MP Joana Mamombe and MDC youth assembly activists Cecilia Chimbiri and Netsai Marova, and prosecutes those responsible.
Charamba, in one of his tweets, said: “I think the Zimbabwean government should summon the U.S. Ambassador to explain the goings-on in the U.S.!
This is an unusual, continuing and extraordinary grave threat to Zimbabwe’s strategic interest globally! And of course a grave threat to international peace requiring invocation of the United Nations Chapter 7.
“Clearly, the Administration is unable to protect U.S. citizens, in which case responsibility to protect stricture must kick in. The SADC standby brigade is supremely ready to deploy all maximum means and capabilities needed to put out this raging fire.”
O’Brien told ABC: “Our foreign adversaries are going to try to sow discord, and we’re not going to let that happen… we’ve got a number of tools in our toolkits, working very close with our allies. There will be a response and it will be proportional. This is not something that our adversaries are going to get away with for free.”
Zimbabwe government spokesman Nick Mangwana, reacting to O’Brien’s comments, said on Sunday night: “Zimbabwe does not consider itself America’s adversary. We prefer having friends and allies to having unhelpful adversity with any other nation, including the USA.”
Charamba, defiantly, tweeted in response to the U.S. warning: “If having an outraged conscience over cold-blooded murder of a blackman in America by an agent of the American government makes Zimbabwe an enemy; if criticising racism and human rights abuse in the same makes the critique an enemy of U.S., then by the same token, U.S. made itself an enemy of Zimbabwe from as far back as 2000.
“Amazing how a polity so wont to poking into internal affairs of small countries, and sponsoring opposition in small nations’ body politic is so squeamish about retweets from its own press and that of its European allies press. Crazy!”