PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe’s address at the United Nations (UN) General Assembly on Monday was a major setback to Zimbabwe’s re-engagement process.
CANDID COMMENT | FAITH ZABA
The re-engagement seeks to build bridges with Western nations, particularly with European Union countries and the United States, while also dampening efforts to restoring financial support from multilateral lending institutions.
Although Mugabe emphasised that Zimbabwe needs to work with other countries, in the same breath he unleashed his usual, tirades against the West, repeating the sanctions mantra while plunging the country into a deep-rooted economic mess.
In so doing he wasted a golden opportunity to show to the world that he is now ready to seriously re-engage with the global community.
Instead, he chose to grandstand and his speech sounded like all the other previous ones he has delivered at the UN, save for references to the European refugee crisis which he spoke about without any sense of irony. While Mugabe was pontificating in New York, Zimbabweans continued to be deported from South Africa and Botswana en masse. About 30 000 Zimbabweans have been extradited from our two neighbours since January.
Talk about the cat calling the kettle black! He should start by attending to immigrant problems at home rather than harping on about them abroad.
Mugabe is an experienced politician and the world’s oldest head of state. He should thus lead by example, proffering solutions to major problems that face the world, particularly Africa, not going on endless rants and finger-pointing.
As the African Union chair, Mugabe should have focused on problems bedevilling the continent, mainly issues of conflicts, hunger, poverty and HIV and Aids. However, he prefers to dwell on geo-political issues around the world, which he has no influence over, like the war in Syria or what happened in Libya.
Indeed, Western countries destabilise the world through their sometimes unhelpful policy interventions and must be criticised for that.
But sounding like a broken record, every time he appears at the UN General Assembly, is not only undermining his international profile but also parading his leadership bankruptcy before the entire world. Mugabe has for years used every opportunity to criticise Washington and the EU over sanctions, claiming they have been responsible for the country’s economic woes.
Such dishonesty doesn’t help.
The only new addition to his speech was his attack on gays when he blurted “we are not gay”, as he criticised Western nations’ “double-standards” and attempts to “prescribe new rights that are contrary to our values, norms, tradition and beliefs”.
It is awkward Mugabe took his war against gays to the UN, forgetting the real issues in Africa.
In Sadc alone, 27 million people need food aid, of which 2,2 million are in Zimbabwe. He should have been talking to world leaders about this, not gays and other red-herrings.