Delivered in Plenary - 18th December 2008
In the past few years Zimbabwe has figured so often in these debates that we could be forgiven for running out of condemnatory words to say, but we must speak up because the long-suffering people of Zimbabwe have themselves been denied a voice by this ruthless despot, Robert Mugabe.
He has forfeited all rights to claim democratic legitimacy, because of his wanton disregard for human rights, political freedoms and the rule of law. The recent shooting of Perence Shiri, one of Mugabe’s henchmen, hints at the anger bubbling under Zimbabwe’s surface. Shiri has the blood of 20 000 people on his hands. It was Shiri who, with assistance from Communist North Korea, systematically massacred innocent civilians in the early 1980s in Matabeleland. If that was not bad enough, Mugabe’s neglect has now caused an epidemic of cholera, a disease that had been almost totally eradicated throughout Zimbabwe until recently.
In response to international concerns, Mugabe says, outrageously, that the outbreak amounts to genocide perpetrated by Britain, my country, the former colonial master. It is perhaps this groundless accusation of neo-colonialism, combined with our own post-colonial guilt, that prevents us in Europe from taking more robust action.
Yet when we look to Africa to provide a solution we find an ocean of indifference and ineffectiveness. The strident condemnation of Mugabe by the Prime Minister of Kenya and the President of Botswana stands out in stark contrast to the apathy of most other African states and leaders, and in particular South Africa, although we must now hope that a President Zuma takes a tougher approach.
If the African Union aspires to anything like the authority of the European Union, it needs to address Mugabe’s reign of terror and consider the possibility of action to force Mugabe from office. One concrete measure we should encourage is the indictment of Mugabe in the International Criminal Court through a UN Security Council resolution, as has proven useful in the case of President al-Bashir over Darfur. I hope, the next time I speak on Zimbabwe, it will be to hail Mugabe’s demise and departure from office.