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Zimbabwe Scolds France Over Human Rights Criticism

Zimbabwe's government is reportedly warning France it has no moral authority to criticize Zimbabwe's human rights record during Wednesday's United Nations Human Rights Council's meeting in Geneva, Switzerland. Zimbabwe ambassador Enos Mafembe said France's role in Corsica and Rwanda's 1994 genocide should prevent it from criticizing any other country's human rights record. This comes after Rwanda recently accused France of complicity in the 1994 genocide in which over 800,000 minority Tutsis and moderate Hutus were slaughtered by Hutu militias, a charge Paris denies.

Ambassador Mafembe adds that France, which currently holds the presidency of the European Union (EU), should not become what it called a mouthpiece for the British Labor regime and other racist groups. George Mkwananzi is the deputy chairperson of the National Constitutional Assembly. He tells reporter Peter Clottey from South Africa's capital, Pretoria that Zimbabwe's rhetoric is irresponsible.

"In fact I find it quite disturbing that at a time when Zimbabwe needs to adopt a conciliatory stance in the diplomatic and international community, it has decided to be invective and insult people. You know if they point out that Zimbabwe's human rights record leaves a lot to be desired, there is no reason to throw back insults to those that are condemning Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe simply has to correct those things that are being condemned. It is true that the human rights record of Zimbabwe is not a good one," Mkwananzi noted.

He described Zimbabwe's statement at the UN human rights summit in Geneva as regrettable.

"Those were unfortunate and reckless statements to come from such a senior official. Indeed if you utter such statements, you actually alienate even those that were intending to assist with some financial packages to rescue a battered economy such as our economy in Zimbabwe. And it doesn't' end there. France is a member of the EU and EU is a very influential and powerful international grouping, and for Zimbabwe to say such a reckless statement indeed that will make them postpone or even defer indefinitely whatever assistance they might have been contemplating sending towards Zimbabwe," he said.

Mkwananzi said it was high time Zimbabwe arrests its poor human rights record.

"There is nothing wrong with France or the world body in criticizing Zimbabwe. What is important and what is paramount is that Zimbabwe must begin to put its act together and position itself for reconstruction and reconciliation with the rest of the world. And I find the statement from the ambassador quite disturbing to say the least," Mkwananzi pointed out.