By Alex Bell
26 November 2010
There has been an angry reaction to Robert Mugabe’s planned attendance at a European Union (EU) summit in Libya next week, with the EU coming under fire for continuing to host a known human rights abuser.
Mugabe will be attending the EU-Africa summit in Tripoli next Monday, where ironically one of the issues to be discussed will be ‘good governance’. Under the main theme of Investment, Economic Growth and Job Creation, Heads of States and Governments will address key issues, like peace and security, climate change, regional integration and private sector development, infrastructure and energy, agriculture and food security, migration.
Mugabe has been officially invited to participate as a head of state, despite being the author of Zimbabwe’s economic, political and humanitarian destruction. It is his policies and his party’s greed that have left the country with a shattered economy, created international investment fears, and forced millions of Zimbabweans to flee the country. His land grab campaign has left the country with almost no functioning commercial farms, so many Zimbabweans are almost entirely dependent on food aid. At the same time, threats of a 51% government take over of businesses under ‘indigenisation’ mean there is no hope of investment any time soon.
The latest crisis Mugabe has created is in the global diamond industry, with his violent control and plunder of the mines in Chiadzwa and the threat to swamp the worlds markets with diamonds and depress their value, if Zim diamonds are not legitimised.
The UK’s MEP Geoffrey Van Orden, who has been spearheading campaigns for democratic reform in Zimbabwe, this week expressed his dismay at Mugabe's presence at the meeting and at the EU’s failure to do more to encourage democracy and the rule of law in Africa.
”Three years ago I complained bitterly in the lead up to the EU-Africa Summit, about the EU’s hypocrisy. It had imposed a travel ban and asset freeze on Mugabe and his ilk and had then invited him to a summit in Lisbon. Since then, Mugabe has continued to trample on the rights of Zimbabwe's people, showed scant regard for the political agreement that he made with Morgan Tsvangirai, and continued his global travels,” Van Orden said before the European parliament this week.
The MEP continued that it is “not surprising so little progress has been made in bringing about change in countries like Zimbabwe.” He said that African states receive such “garbled signals from Brussels.”
“I have still not received a reply to my demand that the EU refuse the credentials of Mugabe's unconstitutionally-nominated Ambassador to the EU. I doubt that anyone will have the guts to mention their disapproval of Mugabe's presence when they are feasting in Libya,” Van Orden said.
Van Orden has urged the EU not to recognise the ambassador, unilaterally appointed by Mugabe this year. But there is still no sign from the EU on what decision it intends to make.
Meanwhile, Kate Hoey, Chairman of the UK All-Party Parliamentary Group on Zimbabwe, on Friday condemned “tyrant” Mugabe’s planned attendance at the EU-Africa summit. She said it is “disgraceful that the European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission President José Manuel Barroso will be welcoming Mugabe to a meeting sponsored by the EU.”
“Mugabe is currently mobilising armed violence yet again to stamp on democratic expression in Zimbabwe. It will disgust most Zimbabweans to hear he is being allowed to join a conference with the themes of peace, security, governance and human rights,” Hoey said in a statement.
“He and his ruthless military machine will revel in this opportunity to strut the international stage with EU leaders. What message does this send to the brave people who are trying to fight violence, corruption and repression in Zimbabwe and other African countries?” Hoey said.
She added: “These meetings are a complete con. African leaders sign up to fine words but treat the people of the continent with utter contempt.”