Monday, December 10, 2007

Zimbabwe Update: Africa Rejects EU Trade Deal; President Mugabe Dwarfs Europeans in Lisbon

President raps ‘gang of four’

From Itai Musengeyi in LISBON, Portugal
Zimbabwe Herald

PRESIDENT Mugabe yesterday castigated Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands and Denmark as the "gang of four" for speaking on behalf of Britain while Europe’s division over Zimbabwe was once again exposed at the EU-Africa Summit.

African leaders stood by Zimbabwe saying Europe was uninformed on the situation in the country.

In his response to the four countries’ criticism of Zimbabwe, Cde Mugabe described them as "the gang of four which did not speak their own minds, but the mind of (British Prime Minister Gordon) Brown".

German Chancellor Angela Merkel led the attack on Zimbabwe when the summit opened on Saturday.

Reliable sources said Ms Merkel was given the burden to speak on behalf of the absent Mr Brown, who stayed away in protest against Cde Mugabe’s presence.

She even requested South African President Thabo Mbeki to inform President Mugabe that she "shall be attacking Zimbabwe because her constituency" demands that, sources said.

Ms Merkel was also said to have asked Mr Mbeki to request President Mugabe not to be "hard-hitting" in his response to her comments.

But President Mugabe told the summit that the four were bidding for Britain although they did not have any problem with Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe also took the position that it also had a constituency which demands that it responds accordingly, sources said.

Europe’s division over the Zimbabwe issue once again came to the fore at the summit as those countries in northern Europe attacked Zimbabwe while Italy, Spain, France, Greece, Belgium, Austria, Romania and Finland did not mention Zimbabwe.

Finland was the only Nordic country that refrained from attacking Zimbabwe.

This confirmed northern Europe as the hardliners while the southerners have a different approach on Zimbabwe.

Since the start of the bilateral dispute between Zimbabwe and Britain over the land issue, northern Europe has taken sides with Britain while southern Europe has kept an open mind.

President Mbeki, who is mediating in talks between Zanu-PF and the opposition MDC, requested to be given the floor when he finished his prepared speech to respond to Ms Merkel’s utterances.

He told her that "I am the mediator on Zimbabwe" and as such was well informed on the situation that was being discussed.

Mr Mbeki said the death of the son of Cde Patrick Chinamasa, one of the Zanu-PF negotiators, had delayed the signing of an agreement between the two parties.

In his intervention on the debate on peace and security, President Mugabe said Africa had already taken necessary steps to put up the required infrastructure.

"We know what the challenges are, what the strategies should be, and what the solutions should involve. Help in marshalling resources is what we need. Meetings such as this should do less of telling Africa what it already knows, and more of addressing this question of resources," Cde Mugabe said.

He disagreed with suggestions that the second EU-Africa Summit could not be held because of Zimbabwe.

"Many have regretted the failure to host this meeting on time, and some from the EU side have said the issue was Zimbabwe. I beg to differ. The problem was arrogance from the EU side.

"There were no preconditions from Zimbabwe, or Africa, for the holding of this meeting. Yet those who today talk rhetorically of equality, partnership and mutual respect would impose their will on Africa so very blatantly. And all that was done on trumped-up charges against Zimbabwe. Unbiased observers have commented very favourably on the state of democracy, respect for human rights, and rule of law in Zimbabwe.

"Why then the demonisation from Europe? Because Zimbabwe dared to repossess its land, which had been stolen by the colonialists at the point of the gun. Our fight is therefore with the former colonial power in Zimbabwe, the United Kingdom. Zimbabwe certainly has no quarrel with the four European countries that made hostile interventions against Zimbabwe yesterday (Saturday).

"The fiction they parade is either the result of British propaganda or perhaps a misguided sense of racial solidarity with the white farmers in my country," said Cde Mugabe.

Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade, who was in Zimbabwe two weeks ago, said Ms Merkel was speaking from an uninformed position.

He said Africa had spoken with one voice and got Zimbabwe to attend the summit but the Europeans had failed to convince Britain to come to the meeting.

African leaders refused to be lectured on human rights, governance, trade and peace issues by their European counterparts and flatly rejected being hurried into signing economic partnership agreements.

"I don’t think we are here to receive lectures from you (European leaders). We are here as friends seeking to work together," said Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.

He added: "Colonialism is intrinsically negative and Africa still suffers from it."

President Wade criticised European leaders for trying to pressure African countries into signing new trade deals saying China’s approach was winning more friends.

"Today it is very clear that Europe is close to losing the battle of competition in Africa," he said.

AU commission president Mr Alpha Konare warned Europe to "avoid playing certain African regions off against each other".

"It’s important we avoid patterns of thinking that belong to a different era. No one will make us believe we don’t have the right to protect our economic fabric," he said.

Merkel’s remarks demonstrate fascist inclinations: Ndlovu

Herald Reporter

THE Minister of Information and Publicity, Cde Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, yesterday said President Mugabe’s attendance at the EU-Africa Summit in Lisbon, Portugal, made some European heads of state and his detractors look like dwarfs.

Reacting to remarks by German Chancellor Angela Merkel that the situation in Zimbabwe "damages the image of the new Africa", Cde Ndlovu said he was not amused as this was coming from a Nazi remnant.

He said the remarks by Ms Merkel clearly demonstrated her fascist and racist inclinations.

"She should shut up on Zimbabwe or ship out. President Mugabe is no doubt an indisputable icon of African nationalism, a pan-African, a revolutionary and liberator of Zimbabwe together with the late Dr Joshua Nkomo.

"He has attended the summit in his own right as a statesman of repute. At the summit he has taken centre stage, making some of the European heads of governments and his detractors, including Angela Merkel, look like dwarfs."

Germany, he said, had no business discussing Zimbabwe and should have stuck to the agreed principle of the summit.

"Zimbabwe is not a colony of Germany. This is racism of the first order by the German head of state," he said.

Cde Ndlovu said President Mugabe had no kind words for the German chancellor and that only Zimbabweans had the right to comment on matters about their country.

He said the people spoke by endorsing President Mugabe as their candidate for the harmonised 2008 presidential, parliamentary and local government elections.

"We are following constitutional prerogatives in Zimbabwe in whatever we are doing," he said.

Ms Merkel had "dirty hands" and was not qualified to comment on Zimbabwe, the minister said, adding that she had demonstrated her Nazi inclination when she banned Hobbiton Scientology Church in German and Hollywood Star Tom Cruise from shooting a film on Klaus Schenk von Stauffenberg who attempted to assassinate Hitler in 1944.

Germany, he said, needed a leader like Otto von Bismarck, who fought for its unification and eradication of injustices.

"She needs to read German history and be oriented," he said.

Cde Ndlovu said Mr Brown had shot himself in the foot by boycotting the summit because President Mugabe was invited.

He said Mr Brown did not snub President Mugabe but fellow EU leaders, who desperately wanted to create economic ties with Africa.

The minister said the Western leaders were scared stiff of the China-Africa trade ties, which were rapidly growing and benefiting both continents.

He accused former colonial masters of treating Africa as an extension of Europe as demonstrated by their attitude when dealing with the continent.

"They should know that Africa is free and independent and governments make their own decisions about their countries’ political and economic affairs."

Cde Ndlovu described the Lisbon summit as a second Scramble for Africa, in view of the EU policies which were skewed against Africa.

He said it was a shame for Mr Brown to send Baroness Amos, a black sister and lesser representative to the high-profile summit.

"If she has a soul, she would understand that she is being used by her master against her own people," he said.

Cde Ndlovu also blasted some NGOs and some private newspapers in the country for backing Britain and its allies in demonising Zimbabwe.

"Some NGOs and some imperialist megaphones from Zimbabwe sponsored the demonstrations against their own President in Lisbon.

"Imperialist stooges had to go to Lisbon to demonstrate against their own leader singing for their supper."
Monday, December 10, 2007.

Africa Rejects EU Trade Deals


LISBON -- Most African leaders on Sunday rejected new trade deals demanded by the European Union, dealing a blow to efforts to forge a new economic partnership at the first EU-Africa summit in seven years.

Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade bluntly dismissed Brussels' pressure to impose new trade deals by Dec. 31, when a waiver by the World Trade Organization on preferential trade for developing countries expires.

The EU wants to replace expiring trade accords with so-called Economic Partnership Agreements or temporary deals, which anti-poverty groups have criticized for failing to provide protection for Africa's poor farmers and its fragile industry.

"We are not talking any more about EPAs, we've rejected them ... we're going to meet to see what we can put in place of the EPAs," Wade said on the second and final day of the summit on the banks of Lisbon's Tagus River.

While about a dozen African countries have recently agreed on interim trade deals with the EU, most African leaders argue that they need more time to prepare their weaker economies and societies for the impact of the end of preferential trade arrangements.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso rejected the African charge that Brussels had strong-armed countries over trade, saying in a statement that it was "indispensable to safeguard trade flows" between Europe and Africa after Dec. 31.

9 December 2007 22:43

China the victor as Europe fails to secure trade deal with Africa

By Andrew Grice
10 December 2007

European and African leaders have signed a pact promoting free trade and democracy but failed to make a breakthrough on formal trade agreements between the two continents.

At a two-day summit in Lisbon, overshadowed by the presence of the Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, the 53 African and 27 EU nations papered over their differences over Zimbabwe and Darfur.

The new "strategic partnership" is seen by the EU as a way of combating China's growing influence in Africa.

However, there was little sign that the first EU-Africa summit for seven years had made the hoped-for breakthrough on trade. The EU wanted to meet a 31 Decemberdeadline set by the World Trade Organisation for securing a new trading system with former colonies, including those in Africa. But only 15 of the 76 poor countries involved in talks have so far signed economic partnership agreements (EPAs) with Europe.

Abdoulaye Wade, the President of Senegal, said a majority of African leaders at the summit had opposed such agreements. "We are not talking any more about EPAs, we have rejected them," he told reporters. "We are going to meet to see what we can put in place of the EPAs." Claiming that China's approach was winning more friends, he said: "Europe is close to losing the battle of competition in Africa."

Jose Manuel Barroso, the European Commission President, commenting on the trade talks, said: "It is a challenge for both Africans and Europeans and will require time."

Asked what his message to Europe was, President Mugabe said nothing but raised his arm and made a fist. His involvement persuaded Gordon Brown to boycott the summit.

Dr John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, who backed Mr Brown's stance, dramatically removed his dog collar during a live television interview yesterday and vowed not to wear it until President Mugabe was no longer in power. He cut his dog collar into pieces which fell to the studio floor of the BBC's Andrew Marr Show to illustrate what the Zimbabwean leader was doing to his own people.

"Do you know what Mugabe has done? He has taken people's identity and literally, if you don't mind, cut it to pieces," he told a surprised Mr Marr.

The archbishop, who urged people to demonstrate against the Mugabe regime, said: "As far as I am concerned, from now on I am not going to wear a dog collar until Mugabe has gone." He said: "South Africa has got to wake up to the fact that people there are starving."

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