HARARE - Outspoken deputy minister of Foreign Affairs, Chris Mutsvangwa, has hosted US diplomat Eric Little at a private party at his residence in Norton, amid accusations that the Zanu PF faction aligned to Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa is clandestinely working with American officials.
Mutsvangwa, who is often quoted by State media denigrating other senior Zanu PF officials accused of cavorting with Western diplomats in an alleged plot to oust President Robert Mugabe from power, confirmed yesterday that he had hosted and fêted the American diplomat.
However, he was quick to state that he had met Little — alleged to have links to the American spy agency CIA — only once.
The new war veterans’ leader also admitted to having hosted Little, who has been accused by Zanu PF hardliners of nefariously working with some MPs to infiltrate and weaken the ruling party from within.
But Mutsvangwa denied accusations that he had travelled to the US just before the United Nations General Assembly this year, to meet with American State Department officials.
Surprisingly, while some MPs have been branded the “Dirty Dozen” because of their alleged association with Little, Mutsvangwa said he had no apologies to offer to anyone for hosting the much-talked about diplomat since his Foreign Affairs portfolio entailed meeting and entertaining diplomats accredited to Zimbabwe.
Laughing off the question that he had hosted Little, Mutsvangwa said after Zanu PF’s controversial electoral victory last year and his subsequent appointment to the post of deputy Foreign Affairs minister, he threw a party for all diplomats accredited to Harare.
“I had a big party for diplomats and it was soon after the elections when I was appointed to the Foreign Affairs,” he said.
“The American ambassador Bruce Wharton could not come and in his place came Little who I don’t even know.”
He claimed his engagement with Little was purely in the line of duty.
But well-placed sources who spoke to the Daily News insisted yesterday that Mutsvangwa hosted Little this year after the State media started lambasting MPs who were described as the Dirty Dozen.
This revelation is emerging as Mugabe on Tuesday and yesterday railed against Vice President Joice Mujuru, accusing her of working with the Americans to topple him from power.
Mutsvangwa said he was invited to the US by the State Department in 2012 and held “fruitful talks” that have led to the thawing of strained relations between Zimbabwe and America.
“Even before I was in government, I was active in trying to restore normal relations between Zimbabwe and the United States,” he said. “I organised the meetings between former Ambassador Charles Ray with the president at State House.”
Mugabe told service chiefs and war veterans on Tuesday, including Mutsvangwa, that Mujuru had taken a “simplistic” approach to leadership.
“We know the infiltration that have come; we know the discussions that have been happening to link up with MDC and be one with America which then will pour lots of money,” Mugabe said. “That’s simplistic thinking; you can’t, I don’t trust a white man and all, never, ever.”
But Mutsvangwa said he had close ties to America and also revealed that as recently as October 2, he visited the US “to attend a private party in Philadephia.”
“I have been visiting America for a long time,” he said. “I have family in the States. What is wrong with going to America?”
But US Embassy sources insisted that Mutsvangwa met state department officials although the details of their discussions remain a mystery.
Asked about his relations with locally-accredited diplomats, Mutsvangwa said he is very close to all of them.
He also said that he studied in the US during the liberation struggle.