Article 41(1) of the same Convention clearly states that: “Without prejudice to their privileges and immunities, it is the duty of all persons enjoying such privileges and immunities to respect the laws and regulations of the receiving State. They also have a duty not to interfere in the internal affairs of that State.”
Section 2 of the same Article further states:
“All official business with the receiving State entrusted to the Mission by the sending State shall be conducted with or through the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of the receiving State or such other ministry as may be agreed.”
In respect of Mission compounds, Section 3 of the same Article reads: “The premises of the Mission must not be used in any manner incompatible with the functions of the Mission as laid down in the present Convention or by other rules of general international law or by any special agreements in force between the sending and the receiving State.”
With such eminently clear and unambiguous provisions in the Vienna Convention, and given that in our situation most of the offending States are not just old States, but are founder members of the United Nations, it is hard to resist the conclusion that the gross interference in our domestic affairs is wilful, and certainly spurred by a gross disdain for our sovereignty.
One, too, cannot resist the feeling that these brazen acts of interference stem from a mindset formed back in history when our respective destinies intersected through colonial conquest. That era and historical experience may have created attitudes and reflexes of racist condescension, pre-eminence and immunity which have become so deeply ingrained that provisions of the Vienna Convention seem non-binding to them anymore.
We thus have to help these errant Missions to learn to respect us as a free and independent people; indeed, to respect our Sovereignty as a receiving State which is equal to any other, including their own, under the United Nations Charter.
Diplomatic relations are established on a reciprocal basis. So, too, should the conduct of Missions representing any two State Parties enjoying diplomatic relations. On our part, our Missions in all countries with which we enjoy relations are well behaved and act strictly in accordance with provisions of the Vienna Convention. We thus expect no less from sending States with which we have relations. Any departure from provisions of the Vienna Convention are sure to offend, and certainly will not promote friendly relations between us, the concerned Mission and the State which sends it to, and sets it up in, our country.
Some Missions accredited to this country tend to conduct themselves in a manner which suggests little or no regard for the State of Zimbabwe. Yet they will have presented letters of credence to our Government, and to me as the Head of State, plainly stating they are here as agents of a State Party wishing to relate to us as a fully constituted State, and for purposes of building friendly relations between us. This disdainful and reprehensible conduct has taken many forms, a few of which I will now spell out.
Continued next page