Last month, Zimbabwean state-funded press reported an interesting fact that prompted us to take a closer look at the faces representing African diplomacy.
Zimbabwean Ambassadors Hilda Suka-Mafudze and Trudy Stevenson from MDC, an opposition party, will remain in Khartoum, Sudan and Dakar, Senegal respectively.
Apparently, there was a contingent of Zimbabwe police people serving in Sudan as part of the United Nations Advance Mission in the Sudan. Some Zimbabweans reportedly taught students as part of their assignment working for various NGOs.
HE Trudy Stevenson reminisced in a 2010 interview about the thoughts crossing her mind during a lengthy period before President Robert Mugabe finally confirmed her deployment:
Well it did start to seem like that when it got to the beginning of February and we still hadn’t had our meeting with the president. I think I wasn’t the only one to think that actually this thing just was not going to happen because, you know, all of us we were appointed in August, myself a couple of weeks after than the others, because we were earning no salary or anything since August and you know it is difficult to go for one month without a salary, let alone for six months. So we were becoming a little despondent. But anyway, there we are, it worked out in the end.
After only one month here, I had a visit from President Mugabe, and that is a very major event for any Embassy because, of course, you host the President and his entourage. So it was quite a major exercise and I’d only been here four weeks and I’d never been an Ambassador before or, in fact, a diplomat at all. So I was a little bit nervous about that but in fact, in the end, it went well despite not having very much in the way of crockery or anything for a tea and so on.
Back then, they have just reopened the Embassy. So it took HE Stevenson and her staff a lot longer to settle down than it does when there had been an established Embassy and they have all their network of contacts sorted out for them by the predecessors.
Why Francophone Africa?
I worked.. for the French in Harare for 12 years in their research centre and it was attached to the Embassy so I’ve got a certain diplomatic background. ..My French is pretty well fluent and so I’ve been able to use that so it’s surprising in one way and not surprising in another.
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