Harrington said charges against Biti were spurious.
The Permanent Secretary for Information Nick Mangwana, however, said the United States had no right to interfere with Zimbabwe’s internal affairs as Biti was facing criminal charges.
Biti is facing charges of inciting post-election violence on 1 August which resulted in six people being killed. He is also facing charges of declaring false election results.
Bowing to United States pressure, Mangwana said, would be tantamount to double-standards.
“The Government cannot on one hand say no one is above the law and everyone should enjoy the benefit of due process as enshrined in our Constitution and statutes and on the other hand interfere with that due process,” he said. “Rule of law means that nobody is above the law regardless of their social station, including who their friends are within or outside the country.”
Flake, however, appears to have a soft spot for Biti. He asked Harrington how he felt about factions within the MDC and the fact that Biti was in Parliament while Chamisa was not.
Harrington, a former United States ambassador to Lesotho and political officer in Harare, said: “The MDC has long been factionalised…. The MDC Alliance and Mr Chamisa himself have not moved beyond the election. I think they continue to challenge the legitimacy of the election. Mr Chamisa led a protest last week in downtown Harare challenging those results. I think clearly the election was not a level playing field, there were major issues with the election. It was better than past Zimbabwean elections but granted the bar is low in that respect.
“What we would like to see from the opposition is one we encourage dialogue between the MDC Alliance and government. We think that’s important. We would like to see the opposition play a role in defining what the important reforms are moving forward to move Zimbabwe in a different direction and to play a role in determining how those reforms will be implemented. So we would like to encourage the opposition to engage in that kind of dialogue and also present an alternative vision for where it wants to lead the country and build public support for that.”