Mugabe in Rome

2008-06-05 00:00

Robert Mugabe has been in Rome to attend a United Nations-sponsored summit on the global food crisis. It is not surprising that some of the delegates present have described his presence as “obscene”. The United States spokesman aptly described Mugabe's legacy as a prime example of what not to do in the management of agricultural and food policy.

The Zimbabwean president misused the summit platform to lambast Britain and other Western nations for the problems facing his country. The truth is that he himself is responsible for decimating his country's agricultural sector, bribing his supporters with gifts of farmland when he had nothing else left to offer.

Food security is the primary responsibility of a state. Destroy that and there is a danger that all else will go down with it. There is plenty of evidence of hunger and starvation in Zimbabwe today. Mugabe has admitted that 600 000 tons of maize has had to be imported this year. This is not because of drought or floods but because of an absence of agricultural productivity.

Meanwhile, he is keeping food aid from certain provinces until the current rerun of the presidential election is over, leaving the strong impression that aid is available to his supporters and not to the opposition. This gross injustice is happening in a situation where the electorate has already spoken on parliamentary representation by giving the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) a majority of seats.

Whether in Rome or in Harare, Mugabe presents the image of an arrogant dictator still desperate to hold on to power.

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