Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe is reportedly going to be permitted by Portugal to participate in the upcoming Euro-African Summit in December. This comes after the African Union (AU) demanded that Mugabe be accorded the same courtesy as other African leaders if the summit were to proceed. But the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) says inviting President Mugabe IS an affront to the democratic efforts in the country.
Nelson Chamisa is the spokesman for the MDC. From the capital, Harare, he tells VOA English to Africa reporter Peter Clottey that the ruling ZANU-PF party would use Mugabe’s invitation as a propaganda tool.
“It’s quite a disturbing development, particularly, considering the fact that it sends the wrong signal. It sends a wrong message and paints a completely different picture to comprehend, considering the fact that people are suffering in this country; people are being subjected to some kind of oppression,” he said.
Chamisa said President Mugabe’s invitation is in bad taste.
“To invite President Robert Mugabe is to simply not be concerned about his repression back home, and it’s going to really confuse Zimbabweans; and it would not go down well with a lot of democratic forces and indeed the entire country,” Chamisa noted.
He said the invitation would further encourage the Zimbabwean leader not to allow the country’s democracy to be entrenched.
“I must emphasize that clearly it’s going to be used for propaganda purposes by Robert Mugabe and the issue has to do with a person who has become a tin God dictator… and that is our grudge with this regime,” he said.
Chamisa said the invitation would demoralize proponents of democracy in the country.
“The losers are not just people in the MDC; the losers are people in Zimbabwe who would want to see democratic change, people who would want to see freedom and justice, prevail in this country. These kinds of invitations would obviously give Mugabe an incentive and in fact this would catalyze and fertilize his continued intransigence and stubbornness,” Chamisa pointed out.
He called upon the international community to force a change in the direction where Zimbabwe is headed.
“A clear message has to be sent by the international community, by the regions in terms of SADC (Southern African Development Community), by the AU (African Union) in terms of the continental initiative to make sure that Mugabe is made to understand that there is need to give democracy and freedom to Zimbabweans without any resort to violence, without any resort to the continuation of the suppression we are seeing in this country,” he said.
Chamisa described President Mugabe’s claim of being a Pan-African as a façade.
“Mugabe would obviously be a parrot and a grandstand. But grandstanding by Mugabe has nothing to do with the reality of what is on the ground. As MDC we feel that Mugabe should not be listened to by way of his speech. People should look at his actions; his actions are clearly anti-Africa; they are anti Pan-Africanism because he is actually defeating the very essence of being an African. It’s not African to maim your children, it’s not African to beat up your parents in the rural areas, it’s not African to repress and oppress your own people… in fact he is a commitment to Pan-Africanism on paper, but in practice he is completely the opposite, an antithesis of what President Kwame Nkrumah stood for,” he said.