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MDC-T boycott: President Mugabe Speaks Out
Posted: Monday, July 6, 2009

Monday, July 06, 2009
The Herald


PRESIDENT Mugabe was in Sirte, Libya, for the 13th Ordinary Session of the African Union General Assembly this past week. He fielded questions from Zimbabwean journalists on the outcome of the summit, the US$950 million Chinese facility to Zimbabwe, his meeting with the US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs and the MDC-T boycott of the last Cabinet meeting, among other things. Here, we reproduce the full transcript of the interview held at Al Kabir Hotel in Tripoli, the Libyan capital.

QUESTION: Your Excellency, you had three days of intensive discussions in Sirte, we recollect sometimes you had to go to sleep in the early hours of the morning. What came out of Sirte (venue of the just-ended AU Summit)?

ANSWER: Well, quite an exercise it was, but at the end of the day we are happy about the result, we are very happy with the result indeed.

The entire exercise was about the transformation of our body, we have moved from the OAU (Organisation of African Unity) to the AU (African Union), then its administrative body as the Commission.

True we have had alternating chairpersons, but overall it was the administrative organ that determined the levels that we were going through.

Whether those levels were qualitative or transformative enough to enable us to say we are moving towards the goal of a real Union with political power or not, it remained to be decided. But this time, a definite decision was made to turn the organisation now into an authority.

And so you have now these levels that have been built; right at the top, the president and the deputy president, and, of course, you have the administrative subordinates, and each subordinate in charge of a different function.

Previously there were commissioners, about eight of them.

Just now the commissioners are secretaries responsible for the various portfolios assigned to them, but we have added two more: defence and foreign affairs, but coordinating functions only.

Co-ordinating defence and co-ordinating foreign affairs, that means consulting with, firstly the regional bloc organisations, and then, in a subsidiary way of course, with the nations themselves in regard to those portfolios.

They are sensitive ones, as you might have heard or seen.

Of course, countries were very sensitive about defence, the area of defence being completely an area where total authority was ceded to the new African Union Authority, and countries would not want that.

But they would want certain aspects of defence in the event, of course, of our taking action as the Authority, an African Authority, to naturally be coordinated somehow by an authority hence the creation of that portfolio, as well as the creation, of course, of the foreign affairs portfolio.

QUESTION: We collect that the operationalisation of this new animal (AU Authority) has got to have ratification by individual parliaments of the 53 member-states. Does it still hold that we have to go to our parliaments to ratify this?

ANSWER: I suppose that's purely now the arrangement to ensure that there is concurrence on the part of everybody, we have all voted for it, we have all agreed and ratification is a matter of procedural nicety, it's a technicality so I think countries will ratify.

QUESTION: Still in Sirte, agriculture was at the centre of your discussions?

ANSWER: Yes, we had agriculture; that was a project that was meant to be discussed, yes.

QUESTION: Any experiences drawn from the Zimbabwe Land Reform Programme?

ANSWER: Well, we are not the only ones who have had experiences, other countries had their own experiences.

But it was a combination of experiences that we were pooling together, and, of course, taking into account also the climatic vicissitudes that we have now which have yielded for us in Zimbabwe more drought seasons than rainy seasons and what we should do in those circumstances.

What it meant was we must gather the water that falls, little though it may be, and be able to conserve it, and then from it naturally we can gain the life of our crops through irrigation and utilisation of that water in various other ways.

So that is irrigation, mechanisation of our agriculture and making our agriculture really, really the basis of the transformation of our economy.

And you noticed that FAO was there also.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation, yes, it's Food and Agriculture Organisation, but food comes from agriculture.

QUESTION: We came to Sirte, but we could have been in Antananarivo where a coup happened, and you had to change the venue of the summit. Any hotspots you discussed, Madagascar for example?

ANSWER: Madagascar, you recall that Sadc decided there should be mediation, mediation through a facilitator and we chose former president Chissano, former president of Mozambique to be the facilitator of the mediation that we believe will bring about some understanding between the two sides; that of former president Ravalomanana and the other rebel, Rajoelina, who is only 35 years old and is barred by the constitution from assuming that role as the president but he has the support of the army.

We said it's not yet a moment for us to think of military intervention, let's try a peaceful thrust and that thrust should be regulated, supervised by a facilitator. Chissano is the right man because not only is he fluent in Portuguese and English, but he also speaks French fluently as well.

QUESTION: Your Excellency, what is happening in Africa seems to be a realisation of the Pan-Africanism ideology. Would you say that, that idealism about bringing Africa together is still alive or it's something that is being pushed by what is happening somewhere else?

ANSWER: I think over the recent few years gone by there has been a development, a development I think which was more determined by the economic situations of our countries and a situation that greater reliance on Western funding would assist our economies in transforming, and because of that naturally if you are a beggar, you cannot at the same time prescribe, you see, the rules of how you should be given whether it's food or any items at all.

So we were subjected to certain conditionalities as a basis on which whatever was paid, be it food, be it humanitarian aid in other directions, was sent to us.

And in some countries, you see, they did not have even the necessary economic capacity, which could enable them to sustain their civil service, their security arms the army, airforce and the police force without outside help.

And once you are inadequate in terms of funding yourselves monetarily and you have got to look outside for someone to assist you, and that someone outside naturally dictates conditions on you, and the moment that happens you have lost a bit of your own sovereign right to determine how you run your affairs.

Those who give you money will naturally determine how you should run your country, and through that we tended to subject ourselves to the will of outsiders, to the will, even, of our erstwhile colonisers. It was neo-colonialism back again, what Nkrumah called neo-colonialism.

There it was, it was crammed into our system, they were deciding how we should run our elections; who should be in government, who should not, regime changes, that nonsense.

So our Pan-Africanism was lost because Pan-Africanism was based on the right of Africa determining its own future, the right of Africa standing on its own, and being the master of its own destiny, master of its own resources that had been lost.

But I think it is coming back because many countries have now realised that the West does not give money to enable us to build the capacity we require to be independent.

They will give you little funds, you know. 'Yes, you are afflicted by this epidemic, we will give you a bit of help here and there.'

'You are suffering from the effects of drought, yes, a bit of food here and there et cetera, et cetera', but with conditions that you run your system in a given way.

That now is our realisation. The funds we have been getting are, by and large, little humanitarian bits and pieces of funds. This has not helped Africa to industrialise. Just look around and tell me which country in Africa has industrialised?

Yes, you have South Africa, which has inherited that system of development, but the rest of Africa; we are still where we were.

There is no funding with an investment capacity from the West that will enable us to move from primary agriculture to secondary stages of development. They do not want us, the West, to be that.

They do not want us to be their equals, they enjoy being masters over us and this is what Zimbabwe rejects.

QUESTION: Zimbabwe recently got an injection from the Chinese facility. How far do you think it will go for us?

ANSWER: Well, it's a fund that was negotiated long ago, and all that nonsense that it's the MDC and so on is just politicking.

It's a fund also that is targeted, it will come variously. There are amounts for the various sectors, for agriculture, for health, for mechanisation et cetera and so on, and they will cover energy as well and so we are happy.

But you don't get the political conditionalities from the E ast. Look at what has happened?

Look at the fund, that US$950 million, and we know there is more, there will be more; is given in circumstances quite different from what the West prescribed for the mini-funds that attended, you know, all that venture that the Prime Minister went on from the Netherlands to the United States, the United States back to Europe.

And they treated him in a mean way, very, very mean way even to the extent of trying to divide the inclusive Government as happened in America where they wanted just the non-Zanu-PF side, which meant the MDC side led by the Prime Minister, to accompany him to a meeting with Obama.

Fortunately, that did not happen elsewhere in Europe, but still in Europe look at the little funds that they were giving, and giving mainly for humanitarian purposes.

And how given?

Through NGOs and what do NGOs mean in our own situation where Government is running a country, running a country with definite demands, you see, in various sectors?

What they think of first is their own NGOs so that the money is absorbed by their own agents in the first place. Or it comes in a crooked way to serve their own political objectives in our country.

The Chinese fund does not come in that way. It has been targeted rightly, it's a fund coming to Government not NGOs, to Government, an inclusive Government, towards development and will assist us in turning around the economy, and that is the kind of help we would want to get, and not the Western dictates.

QUESTION: Do you think there has been a realisation within the parties in the GPA that the West is only there to dictate the pace at which Africa develops, especially when you consider that the Prime Minister had gone for two weeks in Europe and America and got back with virtually nothing?

ANSWER: The lesson is there for everyone with a bit of brains to learn, and those who have not learnt the lesson that the West is always up to mischief, if they have not learnt that lesson, then they won't have any lesson to learn or they are hand-in-glove with the enemy.

QUESTION: The American Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs sought an audience with you in Sirte. Anything which came out of that meeting?

ANSWER: No, you wouldn't speak to an idiot of that nature. I was very angry with him, and he thinks he could dictate to us what to do and what not to do in the inclusive Government.

We have the whole of Sadc working with us, and you have the likes of little fellows like Carson, you see, wanting to say 'you do this, you do that'.

Who is he? I hope he was not speaking for Obama. I told him he was a shame, a great shame being an African-American, an Afro-American for that matter.

QUESTION: On Monday, just the day before you left for Sirte,you had a Cabinet meeting which was boycotted by a section of the MDC-T. Any lessons which they learnt from that boycott, probably?

ANSWER: We talked a bit about it with the Prime Minister and he apologised for it, and thought they should have come and if they had any grievances, aired their grievances in the meeting.

It was a surprise to me to tell you the truth. I don't know whether this is going to be the order of doing things.

It's insolence on one hand, but it's also abysmal ignorance on the other.
 

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