Monday, October 07, 2013

(NEWZIMBABWE) Zimbabwe reads riot act to EU envoy
10/09/2013 00:00:00
by Staff Reporter

THE European Union Head of Delegation to Zimbabwe Ambassador Aldo Dell’Ariccia has been forced to apologise after asking for a meeting with judges hearing the MDC-T’s election petitions. Dell’Ariccia was summoned by the Foreign Affairs Ministry on Monday and warned about his future conduct.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Ambassador Joey Bimha, said: “We explained to him that what he did was wrong and unacceptable, and he apologised. He made a commitment that next time he will observe the right procedures.

“The point of contact for all ambassadors is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and contacting arms of government without going through the ministry is interference in the affairs of the hosting State.”

Dell’Ariccia wrote to the Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court Walter Chikwana on August 29 saying: “I would hereby like to kindly request your support in facilitating the organisation of meetings with members of the Constitutional and Electoral Courts in order to exchange views on electoral petitions.

“The delegation of the European Union to the Republic of Zimbabwe would be available for such a meeting between 3, 4 and 6 September 2013.”

But the EU envoy has now admitted that his actions were without diplomatic precedence.

He blamed an “administrative oversight” for the gaffe and said he had written to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to apologise.

Chikwana had already rejected Dell’Ariccia’s request, telling him that “members of the Constitutional Court and Electoral Court do not hold meetings with anybody other than the litigants or their legal representatives regarding matters that are pending before the respective courts.”

As Dell’Ariccia was making a request to Chikwana, an EU delegation was meeting then Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa. But the minister said he was unaware of the written request to meet judges at the time.

“They presented themselves to me as experts on electoral issues who had been mandated by the EU to make assessment of our electoral system. They said they make such assessments the world over and they wanted to interact with me over our electoral system, which is what happened in that meeting,” Chinamasa said.

“At the end of the meeting, they then asked, through Giles Entikap, their charge d’affaires who was accompanying them, if I could clear a meeting of this group with judges of the Electoral Court and judges of the Constitutional Court.

“I must say, I blew my top. It’s unheard of that you have people coming to meet with your judiciary over matters which are before them or even on any other matter. Judges do not decide policy, if issues to be discussed were about policy.

“I was very angry that they would have the temerity to ask for a meeting with judges before whom are election petitions. I told them off that this was unacceptable because they are seeking to influence the courts in their consideration of matters which are before them.

“I don’t even meet the judges even as minister and no-one else in Zimbabwe does that and yet you have these people from the European Union, which we all know has basically condemned our elections, coming and wanting to meet these judges when all of us know that there are election petitions pending.”

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