ZIMBABWE summoned its US ambassador on Monday over remarks by a senior US official accusing the Southern African country of stirring antiracism protests over the death of George Floyd, the government said.
In a Sunday interview with American news network ABC News, US national security adviser Robert O’Brien referred to Zimbabwe and China as ‘foreign adversaries’, using social media to stoke unrest and ‘sow discord’.
The US has been rocked by days of sometimes violent protests after Floyd, a black man, died while a white police officer knelt on his neck, ignoring complaints that he could not breathe.
Zimbabwe’s foreign ministry spokesperson, James Manzou, said US ambassador Brian Nichols had been called in to explain O’Brien’s remarks.
‘As I am speaking to you now, he is in a meeting with my minister,’ Manzou said in Harare on Monday.
Government spokesperson Nick Mangwana said Zimbabwe did not consider itself ‘America’s adversary’.
‘We prefer having friends and allies to having unhelpful adversity with any other nation including the US,’ Mangwana tweeted late on Sunday.
Zimbabwe-US relations have been tense since Washington imposed sanctions against former president Robert Mugabe and members of his inner circle in 2002 over rights abuses.
Those sanctions were extended in March, with Washington citing President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s failure to implement reforms as well as his violent crackdowns on the opposition since he took power in 2017.
A senior Zimbabwean official quoted by the state-owned Herald newspaper denied O’Brien’s accusations.
‘Anyone who has seen the genesis of recent events, from the tragic death of Mr Floyd to the subsequent protests, will realise that any accusations of Zimbabwean involvement at any stage are farcical,’ the unnamed official said.