Organizers of the Euro-Africa summit say Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe would this week receive an invitation to be part of their conference despite protests by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and other European countries. Brown has threatened to boycott the summit if Mugabe is invited to attend. Other European countries also are reportedly expected to take a hard line if Mugabe is allowed to attend.
But leaders of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) under the chairmanship of Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa maintain that they would boycott the event if Mugabe were to be prevented from going to the conference.
From the capital, Harare, political science professor at the University of Zimbabwe John Makumbe tells reporter Peter Clottey that nobody should be allowed to disturb the momentum of the summit.
“I think it’s the right thing and I don’t expect any wonders from the summit. But I think the summit would also be able to deal with the issues of development for the Africa countries with the assistance from Europe. To think one dictator in Africa should be allowed to disturb the momentum of development in Africa, and the relations between European and African countries. It shouldn’t happen like that. So, Portugal has done the right thing to invite Mugabe,” Makumbe noted.
He said President Mugabe should be confronted at the summit.
“It’s important also that at the summit, European countries should tackle Mugabe and put him in his place,” he said.
Makumbe said Brown’s threat to boycott the summit would not have any significant impact on the outcome of the summit.
“Britain is only one of so many European countries, and I don’t think it’s possible for any detraction from the agenda of the summit because Gordon Brown is not on the same round table as Robert Mugabe. In fact I think Britain is being a bit childish here because to say because Mugabe is there we are not going there, is a little childish,” Makumbe said.
He said the rationale behind diplomacy is to tackle problems through dialogue.
“Diplomacy requires that when there are problems, we engage the sources of the problems. There has been a standoff between Zimbabwe and Britain for the past eight years, and the standoff has not really resulted in anything positive. And so I think it’s important for western democracies to change their tactic and engage the dictator and confront him in every forum and embarrass him,” he pointed out.