Zimbabweans demand change in attitude from Mugabe April 4, 2014 in NewsDay Editorial
THE Fourth European Union (EU)-Africa Summit, which ends today in Brussels, Belgium, was attended by over 40 African Heads of State and 23 leaders from Europe.
President Robert Mugabe didn’t attend.
Although Mugabe was eager to attend alongside his contemporaries in the African Union (AU), he backed off after the EU refused to grant his wife Grace a visa to accompany him.
Business and diplomats responded tersely to Mugabe’s decision, pointing out that he had missed a great chance to consolidate nascent moves towards normalising relations with the EU.
Mugabe tried to use the refusal as a way to arm-twist the hosts and rally Africa to boycott the summit, but miscalculated and overestimated his continental influence.
There were no signs of a boycott of the summit, as African leaders including neighbours Zambia’s President Michael Sata, Malawi’s Joyce Banda and Botswana’s Ian Khama, attended the event.
It was a major diplomatic bungle of unimaginable proportions by Mugabe, who wants to be revered as an elder African statesman.
The EU-Africa Summit sought to find ways to invest in people, prosperity and peace. It also sought ways to stimulate economic growth and job creation, among themes.
Mugabe’s move ought to be taken as hubris. In its modern usage, hubris often indicates a loss of contact with reality and an overestimation of one’s own competence, accomplishments or capabilities, especially when the person exhibiting it is in a position of power. It symbolises Mugabe’s overconfidence in himself, his pride and arrogance.
African leaders who attended realised that the overbearing influence of Mugabe is detrimental to Africa’s progress.
Commendably, other African countries saw through Mugabe’s machinations by realising that “godfatherism” in continental politics will in the long term take its toll on the interests and development of their people.
Remarkably, Mugabe’s intransigency will not grow the Zimbabwean economy especially as it comes when the country and Europe were pushing towards improving their relations despite fundamental differences.
This suggests a leader who has become hostage to the patronage system which he initially created to secure his power. The truth is that while there are many in the establishment who want change in Zanu PF government policy, there is only a minuscule who believe that this should come about through Mugabe because of his perceived overbearing influence on Africa; all of which doesn’t save the government from being a huge embarrassment to the continent.
Zimbabweans demand a change of attitude from Mugabe and the political class who see politics as a means of actualising their private agenda instead of service to the people.