By Alex Bell
17 December 2009
Robert Mugabe has once again slammed Western Nations, using an international platform, this time lambasting the world’s super powers for their role in climate change.
Mugabe was speaking at the world climate conference in Copenhagen, which is fast turning into a power charade, as the world’s leaders gather to discuss how to tackle rapidly worsening climate change. Mugabe joined other firebrand leaders who laid the blame of climate change squarely at the feet of capitalism, lashing out at what they have called the hypocrisy of the world’s wealthy elite. Hugo Chavez, the President of Venezuela, was one of the first world leaders to take the podium at the venue of the Copenhagen talks, seizing the opportunity to label US President Barack Obama as a warmonger. Chavez, paraphrasing Karl Marx, said “a ghost is stalking the streets of Copenhagen... it’s capitalism, capitalism is that ghost.”
“The destructive model of capitalism is the eradication of life,” he said.
Chavez was followed by Bolivian President Evo Morales, the Andean nation’s first indigenous leader, who said that the capitalist system itself bore blame for climate change. The anti-capitalist theme was then swiftly picked up by Mugabe, who used the opportunity to slam targetted ‘shopping’ sanctions placed on his regime by Western states, questioning where the sanctions were for ‘eco-offenders’.
“When these capitalist gods of carbon burp and belch their dangerous emissions, it’s we, the lesser mortals of the developing sphere who gasp and sink and eventually die,” Mugabe said.
“Why is the guilty north not showing the same fundamentalist spirit it exhibits in our developing countries on human rights matters on this more menacing threat of climate change?” he added, blatantly dismissing the scourge of human rights abuses still happening in Zimbabwe.
Veteran Zimbabwean journalist Basildon Peta called Mugabe’s comments the “rantings of an old man who has nothing new to say,” adding it is no surprise that he used the opportunity to slam the West. Peta argued that it is the Western nations’ own fault for giving Mugabe the platform to voice such acidic opinion, saying they are showing their hypocrisy with their handling of African dictators.
“It is the height of hypocrisy and stupidity to invite the same people who have destroyed countries to speak at international conferences,” Peta said, adding that the ‘toothless’ United Nations needs to refuse to entertain Mugabe on any level.
Mugabe’s presence at the international summit has already angered many quarters, with observers arguing that it is dictatorships that pose more of a threat to Africa than climate change. Political commentator Alemayehu Mariam said this week in an article that the devastation African dictators have wreaked upon the social fabric and ecosystems of African societies is ‘incalculable’, singling out Mugabe as one of the continent’s ‘bloodthirsty dictators’ who are responsible for untold deaths on the continent. Mariam argued that millions of Africans have starved to death because of the “criminal negligence, depraved indifference and gross incompetence of African dictators, not climate change.”
“The continent today suffers from a terminal case of metastasised cancer of dictatorships, not the blight of global warming,” Mariam wrote.
Meanwhile NGOs, civil society groups and charities have expressed their anger over being left out of the climate change talks, with a series of protests lined up for the final days of the conference. Hundreds of protesters, who tried to get into the locked-down venue of the conference, have already been arrested after clashing with police on Wednesday. Thousands of delegates, journalists and civil society representatives have been refused access to the talks, apparently to make room for the world leaders arriving for the final days.
Andy Atkins, Executive Director of Friends of the Earth, joined a ‘sit-in’ of more than 50 protesters after being barred from entering the centre, and told the UK’s Telegraph newspaper that it was an “affront to democracy.”
“It is a crisis of democracy when campaigning charities like Friends of the Earth are prevented from speaking up on behalf of communities around the globe within the talks themselves,” he said. “This draconian measure is completely unjustified - the Copenhagen conference is fast becoming an international shambles.”
UN organisers insist the crackdown is simply because no more than 15,000 people can fit into the conference centre for the last few days of talks when the world leaders arrive.
As all the world leaders are taking huge delegations with them, it is no surprise. Mugabe alone has a team of 59 – presumably because the shopping in Copenhagen is quite good.