The Zimbabwean government property in Cape Town which was auctioned for R3.76 million to cover legal costs that the government owed to a South African human rights organisation Afriforum was not covered by diplomatic immunity, Vice–President Emmerson Mnangagwa told Parliament yesterday.
He did not explain why.
Responding to a question from Hatfield Member of Parliament Tapiwa Mashakada on what the government was doing to protect government assets abroad in view of the seizure of the building in Cape Town, Mnangagwa said the protection of diplomatic property was not a bilateral issue of one State and another, it was international and was covered by Vienna Convention on diplomatic status.
The property in question was, however, outside the purview of description of the Vienna Convention, he said.
Asked by Binga North legislator Prince Sibanda why that particular property was outside the purview of the Vienna Convention, Mnangagwa responded: “Madam Speaker, may I know why it should be in the purview of the diplomatic property?”
And that was it.
The property was auctioned to pay AfriForum and German Bank KfW which is owed money borrowed by Zimbabwe to bail out the Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company.
Zimbabwe’s ambassador to South Africa, Isaac Moyo, said the property should not have been sold because Zimbabwe had paid the legal fees involved totaling R800 000.
Q & A:
DR. MASHAKADA: Thank you. My question is directed to the Leader of the House in the absence of the Minister of Foreign Affairs. Hon. Vice President, can you tell this House the measures that Government is going to take to protect Zimbabwean Government assets abroad in view of the seizure of the building belonging to Zimbabwe in South Africa?
THE VICE PRESIDENT AND MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (MR. MNANGAGWA): Madam Speaker, the protection of diplomatic property is not a bilateral issue of one State and another. It is international and it is covered by Vienna Convention on diplomatic status. So the property the hon. member is referring to was outside the purview of description of the Vienna Convention.
MR. P. D. SIBANDA: Thank you Madam Speaker. My supplementary question is, maybe the Vice President should explain why that particular property was outside the purview of the Vienna Convention. Thank you.
MR. MNANGAGWA: Madam Speaker, may I know why it should be in the purview of the diplomatic property? – [Laughter]. –