Zimbabwe Review

Reflections on Zimbabwe

Why is Mr. Mugabe so eager to attend Africa-Europe summit?

Posted by CM on October 8, 2007

Whether President Mugabe would be invited to the December 2007 Africa-Europe summit in Portugal has been a subject of much discussion for months now.

Many European countries are quite uneasy about having Mugabe attend the meeting, with the UK’s Gordon Brown stating if Mugabe was to be there, he wouldn’t. Europe has imposed various ‘targeted sanctions’ against Mugabe and his inner circle, including travel bans. Allowing him and his usually large entourage to attend would inevitably be seen by some as making a mockery of those travel restrictions, for one.

The African nations have come out in strong support of not only Zimbabwe’s right to attend, but to choose its representative. The last part was to counter suggestions that had been doing the rounds; that a representative other than Mugabe would be a good compromise between having the country represented, but not having to deal with the headache of a personal appearance by Mugabe.

Predictably, the issue was cast in the mould of the Europeans trying again to tell the Africans what to do. Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa went as far as saying, “If Mugabe isn’t allowed to go, then I won’t go.”

So the whole charade has been reduced to a “who will blink first” contest, with Brown, Mugabe, Mwanawasa unwittingly showing us their favourite game during their childhood days. Trouble is, you are supposed to have developed more mature and sophisticated ways of getting your way when you become a “leader!”

But apart from all this intrigue over whether Mugabe should be allowed to go or not, what on earth does he particularly want to attend the meeting for? What does he have to offer?

Whatever words of senior-Statesman wisdom he hopes to impart from the podium or in private discussions will be neutralised by the daily evidence of how his country is crumbling under his rule. He would probably keep flogging his currently favourite, but now dead horse of, ” Western sanctions are why my country is a mess.” But there would still remain the glaring question, “what are you doing about the mess, Mr. Mugabe, whatever the causes of it? How well are you managing those sanctions?”

And, of course, Mugabe the master rhetoritician, but stunningly incompetent manager, has had no real answer to that question for years, other than flailing his arms about, ineffectually trying this and that.

If all goes well, December will be early rain season in Zimbabwe. Rather than go to Portugal to recycle his standard, now utterly predictable “it is everybody’s fault but mine” speech, he would do much better to be seen to be symbolically leading a new planting season at home. He could read his usual speech from atop a tractor, rather than have to go all the way to Portugal to recycle it for the umpteenth time.

If Mr. Mugabe had any shame, he would not be so desperate to hobnob with world leaders who may not press their suits or read their speeches as well as he does his, but who know the common-sense traits of prudence in running the affairs of a country.

He will make his usual noise in Portugal, but he is ever more a laughing stock; only protected from noticing the world-wide sniggers by his absolute lack of shame.

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