Adjust font size:
(CNN) -- As international condemnation of Zimbabwe mounts in response to crackdowns on opposition politicians and foreign diplomats, CNN anchor Michael Holmes spoke to the country's ambassador to the U.S. about the policies of President Robert Mugabe's government and the lack of press freedom.
The following is a transcript of Holmes' interview with Ambassador Machivenyika Mapuranga. (Watch video )
Holmes: The Zimbabwe government is threatening to expel foreign diplomats in the wake of criticism over the treatment of political opponents.
What are Western diplomats accused of doing?
Mapuranga: Thank you for inviting me to this program. When you become a diplomat, one of the things that you must do, and you have to do, is to read the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, and that convention clearly states, it clearly stipulates that a diplomatic agent can not and should not interfere in the internal affairs of the host country.
What the Western ambassadors have been doing in Zimbabwe is to team up with the opposition.
As you know, it all started when Tony Blair, the prime minister of Britain, in December 2003, and later in June 2005, while addressing the House of Commons, declared that his government's policy toward Zimbabwe is regime change, and this is why he has been pouring money into the coffers of the MDC [the opposition Movement for Democratic Change], through the Westminster Foundation, and the so-called Zimbabwe Democracy Trust, a body created to subvert the elected government of Zimbabwe.
Holmes: Well, if you have evidence of this, why have you not expelled anyone yet?
Mapuranga: Well, we believe that it has to manifest itself in deeds, and this is what has been happening now. And the minister of foreign affairs had a meeting with these ambassadors, and gave them a stern warning that if you tried to translate what you've been saying verbally, and if you translate it into deeds, the government will have no alternative but to expel you in terms of the Vienna Conventions.
Holmes: Well, you're saying the deeds have been committed. Why have their been no expulsions then?
Mapuranga: Well, the deeds have been committed. I think you are aware the buses have been burned. Police stations have been burned down by MDC thugs, and we would want to establish a clear connection between these deeds and the Western diplomats.
Holmes: You say opposition thugs. The government itself stands accused by the opposition of using, in the words of the opposition leader, hit squads, police hit squads, organized squads who are going out and attacking opposition leaders. And of course we have seen evidence of attacks on those opposition leaders. Is there a coordinated campaign to physically crackdown on opposition leaders in Zimbabwe?
Mapuranga: Well, we -- as you know, Zimbabwe became independent in 1980, and we have always been a multiparty state. There has always been an opposition in Zimbabwe. And we have been holding elections regularly, every five years, parliamentary elections, and every six years presidential elections, which were observed by the African Union, and before that the OAU and other regional organizations in Africa, and they've always said that these elections are free, and fair and reflect the will of the Zimbabwean people.
But now you have a situation where these people, the MDC leadership, because they have been losing these elections, are now turning to violence.
You heard them say that they are going to have the final push, and that they are going to overthrow Robert Mugabe. This is unconscionable.
Holmes: Ambassador, that's the government's view, and the opposition has its view.
Mapuranga: They have been saying it...
Holmes: Well, let me finish. The government has its view and the opposition has its view, which is that the Zimbabwean government is organizing crackdowns, physical crackdowns, assaults on its members and not allowing them to protest and the like.
Here's my question for you -- with your country in an economic meltdown and this political difficult carrying on, why do you not allow Western news organizations to report from your country? For example, CNN, we're not allowed to report from Zimbabwe. Why not? Will you allow us to do so?
Mapuranga: No, we will not allow you to do that, because the CNN and the BBC they champion the imperialist interests of the British and the Americans, so they are totally biased, and...
Holmes: How so? How so? Why don't you allow us to come in there and report on the ground? It's very difficult to report from outside the country, isn't it?
Mapuranga: Because you will be misleading the world, so we do not allow enemy agencies, like the CNN and the BBC to report on Zimbabwe.
Holmes: So CNN is an enemy agency?
Mapuranga: As far as they espouse the regime-change agenda of the United States government.
Holmes: Reporting the comments of other governments is not acting on their behalf; it's reporting.
Mapuranga: We have been monitoring CNN reports on Zimbabwe, BBC reports on Zimbabwe, and they're clearly hostile.
Holmes: So you're saying no. If I wanted to come down and do some feature stories from Zimbabwe the answer is no?
Mapuranga:Yes, the answer is no.
Holmes: Until when?
Mapuranga:Until the opposition in Zimbabwe has renounced violence, and until...
Holmes: What's that got to do with CNN?
Mapuranga: Until the British and the Americans abandon their policy of regime change.
Holmes: But what does that got to do with media organizations?
Mapuranga: Well, because the media organizations support these two governments. You may say that is not the case, but we know that is the case.
Holmes: How can accuse media organizations, such as CNN and the BBC for that matter of this bias when you're on our air right now saying whatever it is you want to say?
Mapuranga: Oh, right now, I think you -- it is -- you have no choice, but to try and hear what the government is saying. But when we allow you to go into Zimbabwe, we know that your agenda is not a noble one.
Holmes: All right, we'll leave it there, ambassador. Thanks so much for your time. Appreciate it.
Mapuranga: Thank you.
Machivenyika Mapuranga says the foreign media is biased.
Quick Job Search