Harare, January 18, 2013 – The US ambassador to Zimbabwe says the recent incident in which he was blocked to perform his duties in Manicaland in eastern Zimbabwe by a group of young people does not diminish his respect for the people of Zimbabwe.
In a statement he posted on his Face book wall, Wharton said:” This event does not diminish my respect for the people of Zimbabwe, the vast majority of whom I know to be smart, thoughtful and constructive. Nor does it deter my determination to work respectfully with the people of Zimbabwe to resolve disagreements and build a mutually beneficial relationship between our two nations.”
Wharton said he defended the right for people to engage in peaceful protests but said respectful dialogue was desirable for progress.
“Frankly, the young people involved in that protest were victims,” he said. I know that they were organised, transported and paid to disrupt what was meant to be an opportunity for Americans and Zimbabweans to have a productive dialogue.”
Wharton’s tour of US supported projects in Rusape and Mutare on January 15 and 17 was disrupted by a group of young people who sang and chanted in protest and suspected to be Zanu (PF) thugs.
The group tore a portrait of US President Barack Obama and danced on the US flag among other things.
Efforts by Wharton to engage them in meaningful conversation failed, forcing the US ambassador to drive off.