News / Africa

Zimbabwe's Mugabe Excluded from US-Africa Summit

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe addresses supporters in Marondera about 80km ( 50 miles) east of the capital Harare, Feb. 23, 2014.  Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe addresses supporters in Marondera about 80km ( 50 miles) east of the capital Harare, Feb. 23, 2014.
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Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe addresses supporters in Marondera about 80km ( 50 miles) east of the capital Harare, Feb. 23, 2014.
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe addresses supporters in Marondera about 80km ( 50 miles) east of the capital Harare, Feb. 23, 2014.

U.S. President Barack Obama is hosting a summit of African leaders in an effort to strengthen American ties with the continent.  But Zimbabwe, which desperately needs investment from abroad, will not be represented because of President Robert Mugabe's tainted human rights record.

Trade and investment issues are an important part of the three-day U.S.-Africa summit taking place this week in Washington.

Talking to African journalists by telephone ahead of the meeting, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Linda Thomas-Greenfield  said the summit was a “historic event.”

“The theme of the summit is “Investing in the Next Generation."  We think this reflects the common ambitions that we share with the people and governments of Africa, to leave our nations better for future generations by making gains in peace and security, and good governance and economic development.  So this is going to be an extraordinarily productive and fruitful discussion," she said.

But one of those missing that fruitful discussion is Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe. The 90-year-old Zimbabwean leader is subject to U.S. travel and financial sanctions because of his poor human rights record and history of alleged election rigging.

He joins Sudan's Omar al-Bashir, Eritrea's Isaias Afwerki and the Central African Republic's Catherine Samba-Panza on the small list of African leaders excluded from the summit.

Pedzisai Ruhanya, who heads the Zimbabwe Democracy Institute, said Zimbabwe stood to lose a lot by not being represented at this meeting.

"So the meeting in Washington is important for trade among those countries that are meeting Obama.  And also for countries that are looking for foreign direct investment, they will be meeting with American conglomerates that want to invest in developing economies such as Nigeria - Africa’s biggest economy, followed by South Africa.  So it is important that such countries meet particularly in America where the heartbeat of international economy is," said Ruhanya.

Zimbabwe's economy has alternated between depression and weak growth for nearly 15 years, ever since Mugabe's government began to forcibly drive white commercial farmers off their land.  Foreign companies are generally reluctant to invest in the country because of political turmoil and Mugabe's nationalistic economic policies.

Christopher Mutsvangwa, Zimbabwe Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Washington, DC, Aug. 4, 2014. (Sebastian Mhofu/VOA)Christopher Mutsvangwa, Zimbabwe Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Washington, DC, Aug. 4, 2014. (Sebastian Mhofu/VOA)
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Christopher Mutsvangwa, Zimbabwe Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Washington, DC, Aug. 4, 2014. (Sebastian Mhofu/VOA)
Christopher Mutsvangwa, Zimbabwe Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Washington, DC, Aug. 4, 2014. (Sebastian Mhofu/VOA)

Zimbabwe's deputy foreign affairs minister, Christopher Mutsvangwa, agreed with Ruhanya that the summit was crucial for Africa.

But when it comes to Zimbabwe, he said the government was at peace not being present for the discussions.

“Of course, we as Zimbabweans we are not invited.  We have no misgivings when America decides to exclude us.  It is a country which has been uncomfortable with an assertive nationalist.  We brook no strictures from anybody, including America,” said Mutsvangwa.

I asked Ruhanya if Mugabe’s exclusion had something to do with his “assertive nationalism."

"No, it has nothing to do with uprightness to the West or otherwise.  But it has to do with how he governs his country.  The kind of economic undergrowth that we have seen has nothing to do with the West.  America is averse to authoritarian regimes, averse to patrimonial regimes, that is why Mugabe is not there.  That is why he was not invited by Obama. Also to do with the election of last year," he said.

The Obama administration was one of the Western governments that refused to recognize Mugabe’s re-election in July 2013, which the opposition MDC party says was rigged.

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Comments
     
by: Met Mina from: South Africa
August 06, 2014 2:15 PM
Who are you America on our Zimbabwean or African issues, is that what a humanitarian organization do, to devide and rule. You think we are all fools to go against our own President because of your evil pretence. Where have you ever seen someone who loves the children of a father that they hate, please, please leave us alone, God the Almighty will look after us, keep your carrots and never mind about us. We are now getting agitated by your cheap politics. You think we are too foolish to see what you have long embarked on against Zimbabwe, don't pretend to be good people, God knows you are cruel, if you have people of Zimbabwe help them quietly not your stupid, empty noise..please...

In Response

by: Martin from: Gweru
August 07, 2014 3:22 AM
Met Mina that's exactly what they are doing leaving us alone to our selfish rulers who neglect to invest in the public health sector but prefer to go out of Africa on the very poor tax payers' money to seek medical help. Met Mina you should come back home and work for the good of Zimbabwe instead of being a dog for the boers.


by: son of the soil from: zimbabwe
August 06, 2014 12:53 PM
Who doesnhebthink he is,how have we been living for the past 15 years. Africa will never become a country full of immigrants.


by: Bill Fairbairn from: Canada
August 06, 2014 8:15 AM
When will the U.S. and Britain give Zimbabwe the chance it deserves? Gaza needs this chance too.


by: Elford Takudzwa Makarichi from: Johansburg
August 06, 2014 2:38 AM
Mugabe is our beloved president.whether they invite him or nt that has nothing to do wt hm.We wil always loves yu nomater watever they say about yu.Obama should concentrate on American issues den Mugabe on Zimbabwean issues thats all.Tinokudai Gushungo


by: Xaaji Dhagax from: Somalia
August 06, 2014 1:45 AM
Robert Gabriel Mugabe may our Lord bless you forever. You are my hero! Continue to stand tall and firm, never blink.


by: Chabanga@gmail.com from: Masheast
August 05, 2014 1:50 PM
Ours is a true leader who will never bow to the west in favour of money.Mugabe lion of the west when he roar the west trebble; it wants to cheat weak minds


by: nhlanhla from: south africa
August 05, 2014 8:53 AM
Last african Dictator.

In Response

by: Trigger lickshot from: London
August 08, 2014 12:28 PM
The king of Africa you might as well say it.


by: Tonderai Maxwell Murema from: Polokwane South Africa
August 05, 2014 1:25 AM
Obama be adviced that we stand by our president Mugabe whether bad or good he is our president am sorry for you, you think u can rule the whole world of course u can but not in Zimbabwe we do have our president Mugabe and again be advised that we voted for him so why undermining the wishes of the Zimbabwean people sorry Mr the whole world president in Zimbabwe we dont need you we have eyes to see and we have ears to hear and we have education to deduce where there is wrong and good am sorry Mr Obama your country is not only the mother of all countries while u are busy with your so called puppets or maybe leaders of your provinces in africa Mudhara Mugabe is busy somewhere with some pressing issues

In Response

by: Owen from: South Africa
August 06, 2014 3:55 AM
Zimbabwe is a great country and we have great leaders. GOD bless Zimbabwe. We are out of the country for a good course. GOD love u Zimbabwe. America wants to rule Africa and we African don't see that.

In Response

by: xhanti from: western cape
August 05, 2014 7:57 AM
Then why are you in south Africa if you are happy with your president go back to Zimbabwe then.


by: michael from: Nigeria
August 05, 2014 12:44 AM
Good Obama

In Response

by: JackO from: Virginia
August 05, 2014 10:26 AM
Obama banned Mugabe because Obama can't stand competition!

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