Zimbabwe ambassador to Australia Jacqueline Zwambila.

Defector: Zimbabwe's former ambassador to Australia Jacqueline Zwambila. Photo: Melissa Adams

Defecting Zimbabwe ambassador Jacqueline Zwambila has been labelled treasonous in her home country after her decision to seek asylum in Australia made headlines across the world.

On Saturday, Fairfax Media revealed Ms Zwambila had sought political asylum in Australia, saying: ''I don't feel safe about returning to Zimbabwe at all.''

The application for asylum made the news on the BBC, The Guardian and The Washington Post.

In Australia, former prime minister Malcolm Fraser tweeted: ''Zimbabwe ambassador makes a bid to stay, grant it now.''

In Zimbabwe, the news outlet Bulawayo24 called her decision ''bizarre'' and a ''diplomatic shocker'' and quoted one unnamed political commentator who said Ms Zwambila's actions were tantamount to treason.

Several other diplomatic visa holders have sought asylum in the past three years. Ms Zwambila's migration agent in Canberra, Marion Le, said she was aware of a ''considerable number''.

''The number of these clients I've dealt with in this time would be in double figures, more than 20, probably more than 30,'' Ms Le said.

Ms Zwambila was recalled to Zimbabwe and was due to fly home on Tuesday on her last day as ambassador but has chosen to seek protection in Australia following Robert Mugabe's dubious victory at the July 31 election, which the Australian government has asked to be rerun.

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said the government did not provide commentary on individual cases as it could prejudice the person's case or, worse, place people at risk. ''As a result it would be inappropriate to confirm or otherwise comment on any individual application,'' Mr Morrison said.

Ms Le, who said the ambassador's protection visa application was lodged with the Department of Immigration in the past fortnight, said Ms Zwambila had been stressed, despite her appearance of bravado.

She said protection visas were usually applied for under great secrecy but this was an exception.

''The last thing I'd want to do is cause diplomatic tension between one country and another but Ms Zwambila's been an activist all her life and she wasn't going to just sit down,'' Ms Le said.

''There are some legal precedents where it says if a person goes public to enhance their prospects then [the protection visa application] should be refused but, in her case, and many others, they've had well founded fears when they put in the application. I think it's her human right to go public.''