Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Zimbabwe President Mugabe Decries Lure of Money Over Principle• . . . as Africa Readmits Morocco • . . . Puts Saharawi to the Sword
February 1, 2017
Zimbabwe Herald

President Mugabe is welcomed by Vice Presidents Emmerson Mnangagwa and Phelekezela Mphoko (right) on arrival at Harare International Airport yesterday. The President was in Ethiopia for the African Union Summit. — (Picture by Tawanda Mudimu)

Mabasa Sasa recently in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia—

President Mugabe has lamented the sad sacrifice of principles as an increasing number of African leaders put monetary benefit above ideology.

This follows the irregular — but not unexpected — decision by 39 African Union (AU) members to vote for Morocco’s readmission into the bloc despite it being in breach of the organisation’s founding principles, values and the AU Constitutive Act.

Morocco colonised its neighbour, the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic in 1975, but was nonetheless welcomed as a member of the AU at the bloc’s 28th Ordinary Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on Monday.

Prior to the summit, Morocco had boasted of having the support of about 40 AU members, and countries like Zimbabwe, South Africa, Namibia and Algeria lobbied hard for the continental organisation to stand on principle.

This, however, was scuppered — said President Mugabe — by a combination of Morocco’s financial muscle, the meddling of former colonial powers, and a lack of ideological grounding on the part of some African leaders.

President Mugabe made the remarks in an interview at Harare International Airport yesterday soon after returning from the Summit.

He said, “I think its lack of ideology. They (the African leaders who backed Morocco) have not had the same revolutionary experience as all of us and there is too much reliance on their erstwhile colonisers…

“We will still fight and see whether in fact Morocco is abandoning its occupation of parts of Saharawi.

“You see, as things are at the moment Saharawi claims that Morocco is occupying part of its territory and Morocco has been denying (this).

“Morocco has been even going ahead saying there is no opposition to the people of Saharawi coming together with Morocco, which is a matter which has been twisted.

“And the matter, mind you, has gone up to the United Nations. It was decided that if Morocco argues and claims that Saharawi indeed is not opposed to being part of Morocco, let there be a referendum.

“We have been waiting for the referendum and Morocco has been resisting that … So we have to fight the matter both at the level of AU and the level of the United Nations but unfortunately for now we had not established a court. If we had established a court which would then be the authority to declare that it is not correct, it is not right for Morocco to be admitted until it gives up its claim of Saharawi. We are still to establish that court.

“But you see, others are saying ooh no, let us allow Morocco to come in and so forth … rules don’t matter, it is material aspects that matter.

“Morocco has been working for quite a long time, building mosques here, giving money at times. But the game is not lost. We will fight the issue to the end.

“But anyway that is a quite a blow for some of us, we believe in rules, in the principles and we have wanted to see Morocco declare at least, that yes, we have given up the claim of occupation.”

President Mugabe also said Sadc’s candidate to replace South Africa’s Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma as AU Commission Chair, Dr Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi of Botswana, had fallen victim to a dim view taken of her Head of State, General Seretse Khama Ian Khama.

Gen Khama rarely attends regional and continental meetings, is a firm supporter of the International Criminal Court when the wider AU is against it in its present form, and is generally seen as uninterested in African affairs.

He was not seen backing his own Foreign Minister for the key AU post even as the rest of Sadc campaigned for her, and it came as no surprise when she lost the vote to Chadian Foreign Minister and former Prime Minister Moussa Faki.

President Mugabe said, “We worked hard behind the scenes and the poor lady tried her best. But the other countries were arguing that ah, you are a daughter whose father never appears at the AU and sometimes takes positions contrary (to the bloc’s). So she had no chance.”

Nonetheless, Zimbabwean Foreign Affairs Ministry sources said Zimbabwe had stood by the Sadc candidate knowing full-well that she was likely to fall by the wayside “as a matter of principle”.

A candidate must have the support of two-thirds of the AU leadership to become Commission Chair.

The Summit was themed “Harnessing the demographic dividend through investment in the youth”.

President Alpha Condé of Guinea took over as AU Chair from Chad’s President Idriss Déby Itno; while Zimbabwe’s Deputy Prosecutor-General Ms Florence Ziyambi was re-elected to serve another two-year term as Vice-Chair of the bloc’s Advisory Board on Corruption.

On his return, President Mugabe was met at Harare International Airport by Vice-Presidents Emmerson Mnangagwa and Phelekezela Mphoko, several Cabinet ministers, senior Government officials, and service chiefs.

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