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Mugabe should give the world a break

Opinion by Shingi Chimwaza

The UN 68th General Assembly has come and gone and ZANU PF was well represented by an eighty-member strong delegation at this year’s episode.

Robert Mugabe at the United Nations
Robert Mugabe at the United Nations

The large entourage was of course “justified” given the task at hand, to shop and load containers for comrades back home whose equally high appetite for travel is being force managed by the US travel restrictions.

The President of the General Assembly John William Ashe chose the theme; “The Post-2015 Development Agenda: Setting the stage”.

This was a call by the president of the General Assembly “to promote dialogue, reflection and commitment to the formulation of an effective new agenda to overcome poverty and insecurity and ensure sustainable development.

Issues were raised at the summit , and the developing world’s concerns about the domination in processes of the UN by the US and its western allies was well articulated by a number of leaders .

The issue of a need to respect each other’s sovereignty as a family of nations was raised and most notably by the Brazilian leader,Dilma Rousseff, calling on all member states to prevent information technology be converted into new battle between nations.

This obviously was in reference to the Snowden saga.

The President of Uruguay, José “Pepe” Mujica spoke of the need to prevent the transnational financial powers from ruling the world but in the same breath calling on big economies to help “lift” the poorest countries.He however lacked the eloquence to explain how this could be achieved since it is not a secret were the same financial powers he talked about get their terms of reference.

A conciliatory message by the Iranian president, Hassani Rohani came as a welcome development, given the tension and the constant rumors of war ,a result of his predecessor’s usually confrontational approach.

How amazing it was ,for a change, to listen to statements such as,”we can reach a framework to solve our differences” from the new Iranian president!It is this kind of talk which led to the break of a stalemate between the two countries which had stalled any president-to-president communication since 1979,with Obama taking the initiative and made a phone call to the Iranian leader on Friday. What a break through it was!

Jacob Zuma of South Africa raised important issues about the need to reform the United Nations Security Council since he deemed it undemocratic.He even went further to challenge the UN to set the target to achieve this endeavor by 2015 obviously taking into consideration the theme of the event.

He however did not mention the need for the removal of “economic sanctions” in Zimbabwe! This was very surprising given his involvement as the guarantor of the past GNU in Zimbabwe.

It is either he has been worn out with the issue or he covertly belongs to the fold who argue that Zimbabwe is not under US economic sanctions but “travel restrictions”.You may keep your opinion to this.

Joyce Banda of Malawi, also limited her speech to the MDGs her country will try to achieve by 2015 and expressed her concerns about the difficulties associated with the total eradication of poverty by the same year.

As the new head of SADC, she however did not find the sanctions issue in Zimbabwe a cause for concern and therefore kept her silence on the matter.

Maybe it is a time to play her cards well ; Mugabe got the victory he desperately needed, so let him solve his issues, meaning she covertly takes it for a fact that there are no economic sanctions in Zimbabwe .

Our dear Commander in Chief of the Defence Forces, First Secretary of ZANU PF and of course the “President” of the Republic of Zimbabwe surely took to the stand when his turn came. He talked of the progress Zimbabwe has made towards achieving universal access to primary education, combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and TB.

My heart however skipped a bit when he mentioned the ambition to eradicate poverty by 2030. I justifiably revised the statement and convinced my self that he should be talking of his successor working towards the objective and not him!

I will not talk of his sanctions rhetoric, since I am not the only one bored by that song, so is Zuma! It maybe a legitimate call to some, but definitely coming from an illegitimate leader. If the same call was made, maybe not even by Tsvangirai, but someone who is not him, but could be from his party and occupying the office of the president it might have been worth listening to.

The world is definitely left to wonder, if the high literacy rate in Zimbabwe does not necessarily translate into capability at leadership by any other person, even from Mugabe’s own party.

A lack of world interest in Mugabe’s rhetoric was evidenced by a lack of an overwhelming round of applause which the former used to enjoy. The world leaders may also be getting bored of listening to the same song, which a bunch of their predecessors were subjected to at previous events.

Even the countries that Mugabe calls friends have some sort of “democracy” (for lack of better word) that allows leadership change. We saw that in China and recently in Iran. By so doing, we see prospects of new relations between the USA and Iran for instance.

The idea is that, no one is bigger than the country and its welfare and hence the necessity to always bring a new personality to give new impetus to the various struggles we find ourselves in as humanity, working at co-existence.

Shingi Chimwaza is from the Fletcher Summer Institute Alumni Network- a group under the International Center for Non Violent Conflict