Wednesday 21 November 2007
HARARE - The current standoff between the European Union (EU) and the African Union (AU) as regards President Robert Mugabe‘s participation at the EU-AU summit to be hosted by Portugal in December 2007 has raised a number of interesting points.
As it is now clear that Mugabe will attend and the summit will still go on even if Prime Minister Brown does not attend, focus has now shifted as to how to send a clear message to Mugabe that the EU does not tolerate what is currently happening in Zimbabwe.
Some quarters are suggesting that the EU is considering calling for a formal debate to send a clear message to Mugabe that they do not approve of the human abuses currently taking place in Zimbabwe.
In whatever way the EU chooses to communicate this message to Mugabe, it must be wary of not elevating Mugabe to a martyr, for this is what he is exactly looking for. Mugabe’s strategy at the summit will be to be the point of focus through his predictable, familiar and now monotonous anti-British and anti-EU rhetoric.
Given that he has dismally failed at home where his self-serving policies have spawned an economic crisis never seen outside a war zone, his approach will be to shift focus from the domestic problems he has created in Zimbabwe and then use his usual land rhetoric to blame Zimbabwe’s problems on Britain and the EU.
Such has been the distinction of Mugabe ‘s policies in Zimbabwe that he is attending the summit with the “ impressive” CV of mis-running a country to the extend of –
• Stratospheric inflation which is nearly 8 000 percent
• Unemployment which is “officially ” 90 percent
• 90 percent of the people living below the poverty datum line including civil servants like teachers, soldiers, policemen, nurses,
• A worthless currency made up of “bearer cheques” and not real money that is in short supply
• A country where more than a third (about four million people) continues to leave the country in droves.
Mugabe believes that he can play the victim and gain sympathy from other African countries and those uninitiated about the realities of the genesis of the Zimbabwean crisis given its various manifestations.
So if the EU formally introduces debate on the human rights situation as has been suggested in some media reports, Mugabe will simply outsmart them by deflating the discourse from human rights to land issue.
He will carefully erase from his presentation the fact that he only resorted to his land reform agenda when it became clear that he was going to be defeated in the 2000 elections.
He will carefully forget to tell his audience that the so-called land reform was and is still a smokescreen to hide human rights abuses, racial cleansing through grabbing property and thus creating and perpetuating racial xenophobia, rewarding his cronies through state sponsored looting like what again happened in June when he launched a crusade against businesses.
He will thus pretend to be the only evangelist for land reform in Africa, across the developing world and in Zimbabwe and he will conveniently forget to say that before the farm invasions started in Zimbabwe, there was already national and international consensus on carrying out an orderly land reform exercise that could have maintained productivity and property rights.
It is in this context that I strongly believe that the best position for the EU to take at the summit will be to focus mainly on the issues on the agenda and totally ignoring Mugabe as if he were not there.
This does not however mean sweeping the Zimbabwean issue under the carpet but rather quietly coming up with decisive actions behind the scenes with other African countries to decisively settle the Zimbabwean issue once and for all rather than allowing this circus to go on.
If Mugabe realises that he has been ignored, he will try by all means to initiate a propaganda war himself.
The EU should proactively work with the other progressive African countries to make sure that he is not given the time to grandstand on any issues at the summit for given the way he has ruined Zimbabwe, he clearly does not have anything to offer to the future of both the EU and the AU or the EU and AU of the future.
Thus the EU-AU summit must get down to serious business focusing on the future, a better future for the people of the two blocs. This way it will condemn Mugabe to the dustbins of history and surely at 83, the man belongs to the past and will only be a passenger in a forward looking summit.
Perhaps such treatment may now dawn upon Mugabe for him to consider his now long overdue retirement from national politics given the real fact that he is now at the sunset of both his biological and let alone political life for whether he likes it or not, human beings can never be recycled!
Chimuka can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org