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UN official urges EU leaders to engage Mugabe

Kuda Chikwanda in Berlin, Germany

A UNITED Nations (UN) representative in Germany has urged European leaders to stop avoiding President Robert Mugabe and engage him in dialogue as this would g

uarantee poverty eradication in Zimbabwe.

UN Millennium Campaign representative in Germany Renée Ernst said the current stance of piling pressure on Mugabe was only serving to make more Zimbabweans suffer while the 83-year-old leader revelled in the luxury of benefits accorded to him as head of state.

“We have to talk to him, we can only solve problems by talking to leaders like Mugabe,” Ernst said. “I believe in diplomacy. I know that it is the people who are suffering right now. Mugabe has his own resources, he has his pockets full and he will not starve but unfortunately it is the people who are starving right now.”

Ernst was speaking to journalists on the sidelines of the UN-organised campaign against poverty.

She encouraged Western leaders to engage to reevaluate their position on Zimbabwe.

Ernst said the global community had reached the halfway mark in terms of time required to attain the UN’s eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

“We should spare no effort to achieve these goals. Time is running out, we have reached the halfway mark in terms of time but poverty has not been halved. We should evaluate our support to non-governmental organisations (NGO’s) which help the people,” she said.

The Berlin event was held at 100 different locations across Germany as over 90 countries worldwide commemorated the day by mobilising people to gather and speak out against poverty and inequality.

Ernst said there was nothing the UN could do to force the Mugabe administration to meet set UN MDG targets.

“We cannot enforce anything. Zimbabwe is a special case, it is a place I would almost equate with places engaged in war right now,” Ernst said. “We can try and put pressure as the UN but I hope it’s only a matter of time before a guy like him (Mugabe) stops his awful policies of abusing his people. Surely Zimbabwe is not doing its (MDG) work.”

The global body set eight millennium development goals to be reached by 2015.

They are the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger; achieving universal primary education; promoting gender equality and empowerment of women; reducing child mortality; combating HIV and Aids, malaria and other diseases; ensuring environmental sustainability and developing a global partnership for development.

Last year the Stand up, speak out campaign saw 23,5 million people standing up and demanding an end to poverty and thus setting a new world record. It is held annually on October 16 and 17.

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