HARARE – The Australian Ambassador to Zimbabwe Matthew Neuhaus said the undemocratic conditions which invited sanctions to Zimbabwe in 2002 are still prevailing adding that he was very disappointed by the situation as he leaves the country.

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Matthew Neuhaus

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The outspoken Australian diplomat who has been in the country since ,2011 told fellow diplomats in Harare on Wednesday while commemorating his country’s national day that he was leaving Zimbabwe a very disappointed man because of the unimproved political situation.

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“People have asked if I have been disappointed. Perhaps I have had some disappointments – and I do have one great disappointment. All who know me know of my great commitment to the Commonwealth of Nations. I often said I would have liked to arrive here as an Ambassador and leave as a High Commissioner. Alas that is not to be. But I remain confident that one day Zimbabwe, where the famous Harare Principles of good governance which remain central to the Commonwealth were drafted, will one day return to our Commonwealth family” he said.

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Zimbabwe withdrew from the commonwealth in 2002 after it had been suspended for conducting violent elections and for violating property and human rights.

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The Australian envoy said if the political situation in Zimbabwe had changed Zimbabwe could have been readmitted to the Commonwealth.

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“But any disappointments have been more than balanced by the wonderful people of Zimbabwe who have endured so much over more than a century and remain among the warmest and friendliest people in the world – and always ready to make a plan”, he expressed hope.

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Ambassador Neuhaus also said he was however happy that he confronted President Robert Mugabe and challenged him that he should not rig elections.

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“I know I have gained a reputation for being outspoken and frank – this is very Australian. I hope it has helped because I believe in a role such as mine there is no more important task than to speak truth to power and show a vision of leadership which is humane, honest and hopeful – and promotes peace and dialogue”, he said.

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During his tenure of office ambassador Neuhaus managed to re-engage socially and politically.

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He said:“ When I presented my credentials to President Mugabe in March 2011 he bemoaned the state of our relations. “And now you won’t even play cricket with us anymore” he said. Within months we had changed that.”

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“We have had two A teams and our national cricket team tour since – and now Zimbabwe is going to Australia for the World Cup. We have also had two Parliamentary delegations visit, the Zimbabwe Australia Business Council has been re-established, we have helped restore water and sanitation services in many regional centres and in so many ways the relationship has grown. So I leave with a sense of satisfaction, even while more remains to be done”, he noted.