Image: James McGee
state.gov
U.S. Ambassador James McGee
updated 11/27/2007 4:02:21 PM ET 2007-11-27T21:02:21

Zimbabwe's government newspaper offered a chilly, racially tinged welcome Tuesday to the new U.S. envoy.

In his column in The Herald, a government mouthpiece, political editor Caesar Zvayi said James McGee had criticized Zimbabwe's democratic and human rights record in statements to the U.S. Senate before his arrival and, as an appointee of U.S. President Bush, was likely "to turn out to be the house Negro." McGee is black.

McGee, who began his assignment in Harare last week after formally presenting his diplomatic credentials to President Robert Mugabe, declined to respond to Zvayi's remarks.

Though "one of our own, at least as far as skin color is concerned," McGee was a Vietnam veteran who earned three flying medals for "bombing hapless villagers" there, Zvayi wrote.

But "Zimbabwe welcomes the Son of McGee and hopes he will not shame the ancestors in whose loins he crossed the Atlantic to his adopted home," Zvayi continued.

During his Senate confirmation hearings in September, McGee said Zimbabwe was "suffering under authoritarian misrule," and said he would work for peaceful change.

"Abandoning the people of Zimbabwe to the worst effects of their government's misrule is not in America's interests," he said.

McGee's predecessor, Christopher Dell, also had been a sharp critic of Mugabe's government.

In a farewell interview before taking up a post in Afghanistan after three years in Zimbabwe, Dell told an independent newspaper that the government was "doing regime change to itself" through economic mismanagement.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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