Sunday, November 17, 2013

Minister of Environment Saviour Kasukuwere detained and humiliated in Germany

Saviour Kasukuwere
The Minister of Environment, Water and Climate, Cde Saviour Kasukuwere was early yesterday morning detained for almost three hours at Munich International Airport in Germany after police in
that country swooped on him soon after arrival in a plane from South Africa.
The Minister who was on his way to Poland to attend the United Nations Framework on Climate Change Convention was detained at a police post at the airport where he was told that the country’s security system had alerted the police that “an undesirable element was entering the country.”

Speaking from Munich International Airport yesterday, Minister Kasukuwere said after the ordeal, Germany Ambassador to Zimbabwe Ulrich Klockner called him to apologize saying such an incident would never happen again.

“Problems started when I landed at Munich International Airport around 6am today. As we were walking from the arrival terminal, police details and security agents appeared as if they were carrying their usual airport checks but as soon as they got hold of my passport, they all swooped on me.

“They stopped searching all the other people and I suddenly became the centre of attraction as they escorted me to a police post within the airport and they detained me in a small room for two and half hours. As soon as we got into this room, they took away my passport and gave me some document saying I was supposed to be subjected to some security checks. The police details consulted with higher authorities and shuttled from one office to the other.

“I asked them what was the problem and they told me that their security system had alerted them that an undesirable element was about to enter into their country. They searched me and checked all my details and after a while, they left me to sit alone in this tiny room not knowing what was going on,” said Cde Kasukuwere.

He added: “It was quite some experience but I wasn’t surprised. I then spoke to the Germany Ambassador in Zimbabwe who made frantic efforts to call these police details to no avail. I sat in this tiny room on some bench and all I could do was just to read my prayer book.”

The Minister said he had even tried to explain to the police details that he was on his way to Poland for a UN meeting but they would not listen. I went further querying why as a diplomat I was being kept in this tiny room but they maintained that they were doing their job.

“After about two and half hours of uncertainty, one of the police officials just came in and handed me my passport. He then hurriedly left and I was really taken aback by this treatment. I think this had something to do with the illegal sanctions but no one mentioned this to me. This was quite some experience.

I was only freed around 8:45am. This treatment was totally uncalled for.
“After I had been released, the Germany Ambassador to Zimbabwe contacted me and he was very apologetic about the whole ordeal. He gave me assurance that this would never happen again.”

Late last night, The Sunday Mail got in touch with the Minister who confirmed that he later left Germany without any incident and had arrived in Poland safely.

“I have now arrived in Poland safely but the experience in Germany was quite disturbing.”
Contacted for a comment yesterday, the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Joey Bimha said he could not comment in detail about the incident as he had not yet spoken to Minister Kasukuwere. He asked The Sunday Mail to call him after two hours but later his phone went unanswered.

Repeated efforts to get a comment from the Germany Ambassador to Zimbabwe proved fruitless yesterday.

Political Analyst and Chairperson of the University Of Zimbabwe Department Of Political and Administrative Studies Dr Charity Manyeruke said it was “unacceptable” for senior officials of Government to be subjected to such treatment.

“Any harassment of a senior official of Government is unacceptable and it tramples on the essence of diplomacy. It is important to respect individual states and the ill treatment of a person as senior as a Minister shows total disrespect of that state. One gets the feeling that such countries may be holding vendettas’ against Zimbabwe but this is the height of mediocrity because if they have any issues with Zimbabwe, they should address them through diplomatic channels,” she said.

Dr Manyeruke said the incident could be a sign that countries in the West have been irked by Zanu PF’s emphatic victory in the forthcoming elections.

Last month Foreign Affairs Minister Cde Simbarashe Mumbengegwi was subjected to a humiliating experience after attending the 68th Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York last month when he was forced to undergo rigorous searching procedures.

This was despite the fact that Cde Mumbengengwi has diplomatic privileges that exempt VIPs from being searched.

Under diplomatic etiquette, there is a provision that ministers should be escorted straight to their aircraft without going through ordinary procedures for other passengers.

After the incident, The Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned the US Ambassador Bruce Wharton and protested over the ill-treatment.

Ambassador Wharton reportedly apologised to the Ministry on behalf of Washington.
In another incident, former South Africa Cabinet Minister and ANC stalwart Tokyo Sexwale was detained at JFK International Airport in New York because his name was on the terrorist list.

The US immigration officials said Sexwale posed a threat to international security. After the incident the ANC demanded an unconditional apology from the US administration.

The Sunday Mail

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