European Union (EU) head of delegation for Zimbabwe, Ambassador Philippe Van Damme has refuted reports that he apologised to President Emmerson Mnangagwa for spreading fake news about human rights abuses and retribution since the August 1 shootings.
Mnangagwa claimed that all reports of retribution targeting opposition supporters was fake news. In an interview with Peta Thornycroft, Mnangagwa is quoted as saying,
Let me assure you, the best thing to do is get the list of 150 cases and pass it onto us. This is fake news and it’s flying left right and centre. We were told (of these cases) by Philippe van Damme, the EU ambassador here, and we took him to task and said let’s go around all the hospitals in Harare and see if there is any record of people in hospitals. He had to later apologise as this was not true.
…Be wary of Zimbabwe human rights groups. They have an agenda. They have always been against the government. They have not changed their minds, they have not shifted their mindset to become democratic but that will take time. We must deal with facts and not any speculation. Whatever you hear try to check and I think the police will be able to assist you in checking…I have not received information from my party or from the general public or from any citizen saying I am fearful. Never, never.
However, Van Damme refuted that he had made an apology of any sort and said that the cases of human rights abuses have been well documented. Speaking on microblogging site Twitter, Van Damme said,
Not sure where you get that from. Ridiculous. Civil society has documented cases of HR abuses & retribution. We do not apologize but on the contrary urge authorities to take these cases seriously. Police has to enquire & protect victims & witnesses