Manfred Nowak, the United Nations human rights investigator is throwing tantrum in the media following his ejection from Zimbabwe. Nowak alleges that the Mugabe government has intentionally barred him from entering the country because ‘he knows’ he will find evidence of human rights abuses committed by Mugabe’s party, ZANU-PF. Nowak states, using undiplomatic language and improper protocols, “I can only interpret that, at this point of time, they didn’t want any kind of independent fact-finding on torture and other forms of ill-treatment,” referring to ZANU-PF. He goes on to add, “This is totally unacceptable conduct of a government – of a member state of the United Nations – vis-a-vis a United Nations independent expert who is mandated by the human rights council to carry out fact-finding missions on the invitation of the government.” Notice the last part, “on the invitation of the government.” Also notice Mr. Nowak is exaggerating his importance by implying that he is ‘mandated’ by the U.N.’s human rights council, an act that is essentially imposed on a U.N. member state by the council through the Security Council. In fact, the government of Zimbabwe invited him voluntarily with no mandate to carry out, other than to investigate rights abuses in the country and report it to the human rights council – an entity that once included Iran, Cuba, China, Saudi Arabia, etc etc.
While he was in South Africa, the government of Zimbabwe asked Nowak not to come now because the government officials he needs to talk to as part of his investigation are busy with SADC mediations on the unity government between Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party and Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC party that is currently in jeopardy of dissolving. Thus, the government of Zimbabwe rescinded its invitation and asked Nowak to reschedule it for another time before he arrived in the country. But Mr. Nowak, who was only coming to the country on the invitation of the host government, took matters into his own hands and showed up at Harare International Airport with a stupid look on his face and insisting that he was invited by the prime minister, Morgan Tsvangirai – who I should add has ceased to participate in the unity government and has no authority on foreign relations. Accordingly, the immigration authority refused him entry into the country and put him back on the returning flight to South Africa. Case closed, right?
Not if you are Manfred Nowak, a supposed neutral diplomat working for the United Nations. He has spent the last couple of days bitching to every media outlet that is willing to listen to his petulant and undiplomatic behavior. Furthermore, Nowak’s self-righteous attitudes and media blitz seems to reflect a disdain for the United Nation’s own Charter that is built on the foundation of respect for member states’ sovereignty and territorial integrity. If I invite someone to my house party and I change my mind and tell them not to come, I expect my wishes to be followed. If they choose to ignore my request and show up at my door anyway? Of course I would shut the door on their face. Too bad the mindless western media will not put this simple diplomatic issue into context. Granted, there a lot of human rights abuses that have to be investigated in Zimbabwe (it is long overdue) and more importantly, MDC-Tsvangirai supporters are just as culpable in these abuses as ZANU-PF supporters are – a fact the western media has been sweeping under the rug for far too long. Because of Nowak’s self-righteousness and stupidity, many victims of state and political parties’ abuse will not have their stories heard.
The moral of the story though? Don’t invite Manfred Nowak to your house!