There was drama yesterday when Environment Minister, Oppah Muchinguri was forced to at the last minute, abandon her long trip to Brussels, where she was flying out with a large entourage. The meeting was a function attended by heads of National Parks from a select Southern African countries and her South African counterpart sent to the EU a simple email containing her own video recorded presentation.
Namibia was represented by that country’s local ambassador, and many other nations were not present.
The practice of ministers travelling abroad to perform duties which sitting ambassadors in those country can easily do was characteristic of the former Robert Mugabe regime.
The EU conference was on hunting and was dubbed “Keep Calm and Let Africa Take the Lead.”
Zimbabweans arriving at the European Parliament building hoping to see the minister who is also the ZANU PF National Chairperson, were disappointed as they found Mrs Muchinguri-Kashiri’s name deleted from the program file.
“She cancelled the trip at the last minute,” a parliament official told ZimEye.com
More drama emerged when the function commenced with Zimbabwe having an empty seat at the stage, despite the ambassador Tadeous Chifamba being present in the room. Organisers later scrambled a plan to get him on stage and have his name printed and displayed.
While no explanation could be obtained at the time of writing, it was believed Muchinguri developed cold feet due to protests by animal rights groups baying for her scalp at the EU meeting following concerns over particularly illegal wildlife exports to China. Another matter is the way in which Minister Muchinguri suddenly fired a whole board of directors of the National Parks And Wildlife claiming they had encroached into her executive authority.
Ambassador Chifamba later stood in for Zimbabwe to answer many questions part of which he argued against protests by rights activists to ban trophy hunting in Zimbabwe.
Meanwhile one of the delegates questioned the criteria for the representation since other regions of Africa appeared to have not been invited.