Harare — Zimbabwe's Ambassador to South Africa Simon Khaya Moyo has urged Government officials to notify the embassy and follow laid down procedures whenever they visit foreign countries following the assault of National Housing and Social Amenities Minister Fidelis Mhashu in Johannesburg last week.
Ambassador Moyo said the embassy was not aware that Minister Mhashu was in South Africa when armed robbers hit businessman Mr Mutumwa Mawere's house in Sandton as he hosted 15 other people for dinner.
He said he only heard about the robbery in which Minister Mhashu sustained head injuries and lost cash and valuables when Mr Mawere telephoned him around midnight on Friday informing him of what had happened.
Speaking from his Pretoria base, Ambassador Moyo said: "I have only been told that the two (Minister Mhashu and Mr Mawere) were discussing some construction business at Mawere's house and there were other people who were at the dinner.
"According to the report we have here Minister Mhashu had to get five stitches after the attack while two other people, including one from the United Kingdom, are still in hospital.
"The embassy must be informed of any impending visit so that we liaise with the authorities. We also have to know if the visit is on official or personal business. "If the visit is official we work with the authorities so that the visiting Government official is cleared at the airport. "This is usually done 48 hours before the impending visit," he said.
South African police spokesperson Senior Superintendent Vishnu Naidoo accused Minister Mhashu of circumventing protocol by failing to request VIP protection from authorities.
He said protocol entailed visiting Government officials to seek protection from the host country.
However, Minister Mhashu's office yesterday said he had Cabinet authority and a letter from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirming he was going to South African on official business.
Efforts to get a comment on the matter from the office of the Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet were fruitless at the time of writing.
Yesterday, Government officials raised concern about "irregular and un-procedural" trips outside the country by senior officials saying these had the potential to "compromise personal and national security".
"There is a serious problem of some ministers clandestinely holding foreign meetings.
"When they leave the country they say they are going on official business but when they get to those countries they hold meetings that were never on the agenda and that Cabinet is not aware of.
"The ministers just travel without notifying authorities and this causes problems especially when you have an incident like the attack on Minister Mhashu.
"What these people must know is that they are part of Government and should follow laid down procedures for their own safety and for national security reasons.
"They should also learn to do away with party politics and work for the interests of Zimbabweans.
"And as Government ministers they should stop these clandestine business activities because it will be difficult for the Government to rectify problems that are created by people acting as individuals but purporting to be on official missions," the sources said.