Dr. Walter Mzembi was known as one of the longest-serving tourism ministers in the world and competed for the post of UNWTO Secretary-General in 2017. Dr. Mzembi was appointed Foreign Minister for Zimbabwe for a short time before his government was overturned by a military take-over on November 17, 2017. Dr. Mzembi, recently diagnosed with an urgent health issue, was admitted to a South African hospital last week for immediate major surgery.
A week after the surgery Dr. Walter Mzembi from his hospital bed issued this statement and open appeal to the President of Zimbabwe Dr. E.D Mnangagwa He is asking the president for constitutional protection of his rights to privacy in sickness and recuperation.
This is the unedited transcript of Dr. Mzembi’s public appeal:
This public appeal and update has become necessary after the State decided to make my medical condition and records a matter of public record even after pleading for discretion and confidentiality as is best practice internationally. It is also prompted by screaming headlines in most of today’s tabloids, that suggests that I was issued with a warrant of arrest after violating my bail conditions, etc. Let me state upfront that I am the least worried about a warrant of arrest at this stage, whatever prompts the State to behave in this manner. What is most important for me and my family for now, is my recovery, my health and my life, and I will at an appropriate time defend myself from the spurious politically motivated charges that have been raised against me. Indeed ” there is nothing special about Mzembi”, that he cannot be tried , and so be it when I am fit to stand trial I will make myself available and I want to thank notwithstanding the manner in which my last plea was heard, the issuing of an Administrative Warrant of Arrest, which says I shall make myself available only when I am fit, and at the time I will take the stand and explain my absence. This should be nothing newsworthy in a normal society, only in Zimbabwe do people find interest in such matters!
My lawyer, was pressured and directed by the presiding magistrate on the instigation of the public prosecutor, to give graphic details of my state of health in order to avert a warrant of arrest even as I was being simultaneously operated on in South Africa. My surgery took a gruesome four hours, running simultaneously with an attempt to issue a warrant of arrest on me by the State. I was wheeled into the ICU, with the conscious and full knowledge of the State’s intentions and could not help but feel sorry for my wife and son who stood by urging me to forget the persecution and focus on the life-saving operation at hand.
I had previously secured State Consent and endorsement of another Magistrate to travel to South Africa for the Surgery. She had in a previous hearing conducted my initial application in camera, but alas her successor would not have it, she wanted it in public, the Newsday cashed on it and headlined my tragic circumstances in a story headlined and front paged ” Mzembi critically ill and in ICU”.
Today a week later the same story has more drama and lies been recycled by a number of tabloids. I had not shared my condition so graphically described by the Newsday in its opportunistic story with my children for obvious reasons. Two of them were writing examinations in Harare, and I didn’t think it was prudent to psychologically disturb them.
They heard it from the Newsday, including my two daughters in London, and a son in Zambia. My siblings too were taken aback, by this degree of recklessness and insensitivity of the State over an individual’s health. I still have many friends locally and abroad, they too were in a state of disbelief on the degree of the callousness of our court and justice system, so were the specialists in South Africa who eventually attended to me. I don’t wish this treatment to anyone and I just wonder how we can hate each other to this extent, where we throw basic ubuntu and human ethos through the window!
The medical authorities in South Africa were not ready to expressly take me in as they had to do their own confirmation tests on my condition which took another week, and I was booked one Thursday later which coincided with the expiry of my special dispensation to seek medical attention. The State prosecutor was kept abreast agreeing with my lawyer that there would be no problem in extending my continued possession of the passport indefinitely until I was fit to stand the rigors of remand hearings or trial, only to somersault in Court demanding my immediate warrant of arrest.
I have watched his performance in several of my remand hearings, he loves drama and antics and even in this very sensitive matter he couldn’t be persuaded to a private hearing preferring to spill all my confidential medical records in an open court. Such lack of trust, sympathy, compassion, and goodwill even in such special circumstances has left me completely convinced that the State cannot guarantee my recovery let alone a fair trial in such a toxic environment. The State is seemingly persecuting not prosecuting me and every day I am psychologically battered with negative press whose source is the State and its workers. How can I haunt it to this extend even from a hospital bed?
I have repeatedly reassured the ruling Party Zanu PF, it’s President Dr. Emmerson Mnangagwa, former and current Cabinet Colleagues that I have taken a sabbatical from politics and will now concentrate on my business and corporate life. I have not set foot in my former Constituency, Masvingo South since October 2017! I can assure the President this is one Constituency where am most loved and can win it from my hospital bed without campaigning, just my mere presence on the ballot paper would do it! They cry day and night for my comeback, but I have stuck to my guns and principle of a sabbatical.
I am not active or organizing politically against him or Zanu PF or for any of the 122 registered political parties to date, but I am not deaf too, to false, fake and contrived intelligence reaching the desk of the Chief Executive of Zimbabwe and other authorities, to further drive a wedge between us. The President is in possession of a letter I wrote him sometime in late January explaining the conspiracy of three or four characters against me, and the personal abuse of ZAAC by one of its Directors against me as he settles old scores in collaboration with my former subordinates and colleagues in Government.
You would be aware that we are currently locked in a multimillion-dollar lawsuit arising out of his unprofessional conduct towards me. The abuse of State institutions is happening at this middle management level as former subordinates attempt to settle personal scores, and this includes media besmirching of my reputation, which to date I have opted not to respond to, including today ‘s sponsored articles. I embargoed the contents of this letter out of respect for the Head of State, but I may in the fullness of time declassify it to assist the public in understanding why I have been subjected to so much abuse and persecution in the last half year, that is if it matters at all.
That notwithstanding I have and still renew the assurances of my highest consideration for the office of Head of State and Government, and President of Zanu PF, my party of birth. I am fully conscious that this is not my political season and am equally not in a hurry to find relevance in the current political space. My family and I do not desire to be mixed up in any of the goings on in Zimbabwe’s political landscape and I am hoping my constitutional rights for privacy and wishes for a civil nonpartisan life will be respected and reciprocated, especially my recuperation from such delicate surgery and post b treatment.
God bless and heal Zimbabwe.