PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe on Wednesday reacted angrily to US President George W Bush, accusing him of “rank hypocrisy” for criticising the Zimbabwe government as “tyrannical” and its policies as “an assault on its people”.
said in his address to the United Nations General Assembly that Zimbabwe’s ordinary citizens suffer under a tyrannical regime where government has cracked down on peaceful calls for reform, and forced millions to flee their homeland.
He said the behaviour of the Mugabe administration was an assault on its people and an affront to the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Bush called on the UN to insist on change in Harare.
In reaction, Mugabe in his address said Bush could not lecture him on human rights when his hands were “dripping with innocent blood” of many nationalities.
“His hands drip with innocent blood of many nationalities,” Mugabe said in his speech to the General Assembly. “He kills in Iraq. He kills in Afghanistan. And this is supposed to be our master on human rights?”
He said Bush imprisoned and tortured people in Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and at Guantanamo, the US military prison in Cuba where al Qaeda suspects are held. He also accused Bush of having secret torture chambers in Europe.
“At that concentration camp, international law does not apply,” Mugabe said of Guantanano Bay.
“Only Bush’s laws apply. America is primarily responsible for rewriting core tenets of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We seem all guilty for 9/11,” a reference to the terrorist bombing of the US on September 11, 2001.
Mugabe said Bush and his ally, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, “rode roughshod” over the United Nations when they went to war in Iraq, and that Bush was now asking the world body to expand its role in Iraq.
“Mr Bush thinks he stands above all structures of governance whether national or international. Almighty Bush is now coming back to the UN for a rescue package because his nose is bloodied. Yet he dares to lecture us on tyranny,” Mugabe said.
Mugabe accused Britain and the United States of negating weaker states’ sovereignties by controlling their resources and making them mere chattels and minders of transnational interests.
“In my country and other sister states in Southern Africa, the most visible form of control has been over land despoiled from us from the onset of British colonialism,” he said. “That control largely persists although firmly challenged in Zimbabwe, thereby triggering the stand-off between us and Britain supported by the US and Australia.”
He also accused the West of having gone on a relentless campaign of destabilising and vilifying Zimbabwe.
“They have sponsored surrogate forces to challenge lawful authority in my country,” Mugabe said. “They seek regime change, placing themselves in the role of the Zimbabwean people in whose collective will democracy places the right to define and change regimes.”
He said the West were outsiders and should not author any regime change.
“We do not interfere with their systems in America and Britain,” he said.
Mugabe paid tribute to the Sadc-initiated talks.
“In that vein, I wish to express my country’s gratitude to President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa who, on behalf of Sadc, successfully facilitated the dialogue between the ruling party and the opposition parties, which yielded the agreement that has now resulted in the constitutional provisions being finally adopted. Consequently, we will be holding multiple democratic elections in March 2008,” Mugabe said.
Zimbabwe is grappling with the world’s highest inflation rate of more than 6 000%, shortages of foreign currency, fuel and food and rocketing unemployment that has left 85% of the population jobless and unable to buy basic foodstuffs. — Staff Writer.