Zimbabwe?s main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) is calling President Robert Mugabe?s presence at the United Nations-sponsored food security conference set to begin today (Tuesday) in Rome as embarrassing. The MDC contends that President Mugabe?s gross policy mismanagement has led to Zimbabwe?s current escalating economic crisis. Mugabe?s presence in the Italian capital has generated wide condemnation among western countries. But Zimbabwe?s ruling ZANU-PF government has dismissed the criticisms citing the recent purchase of 600 thousand tonnes of maize as the government?s commitment to alleviate the food shortages in the country.

John Makumbe is a political science professor at the University of Zimbabwe. He tells reporter Peter Clottey from the capital, Harare that President Mugabe seems to have no shame.

 ?Zimbabweans are surprised that Robert Mugabe even has the courage to go to Rome. The Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) is actually one of the United Nations agencies, which is assisting Zimbabwe to meet the food needs and the requirements of the people because Zimbabwe is really a bankrupt country and a bankrupt nation because of Mr. Mugabe?s mismanagement. And so it is an embarrassing that he even had the courage to go to Rome for this FAO summit,? Makumbe pointed out.

He blames President Mugabe for the economic crisis in the country, due to what he described as bad economic policies.

?It is embarrassing in fact to say the least because less than 10 years ago, Zimbabwe used to be the breadbasket of Southern Africa if not sub-Saharan Africa. We used to export food to other neighboring countries. Today, because of Mr. Mugabe?s mismanagement of the agrarian reforms, Zimbabwe is importing food from such countries such as even poor Malawi, Zambia, and from South Africa. And so, it should be embarrassing for Mr. Mugabe to be actually be boasting of importing so much maize or wheat from other countries instead of growing it,? he said.

Makumbe said President Mugabe?s land distribution policy largely caused the problem of food scarcity in the country.

?After all he (Mugabe) has taken the land from commercial farmers and given it to his ZANU-PF supporters. But they are not farmers and so the food security of the nation has gone into jeopardy, and the FAO is willing to come in and rescue Zimbabwe from starvation,? Makumbe noted.

He described as unfortunate President Mugabe?s decision to blame external forces for the failure of his economic policies.

?I think it?s all fiction. It is really ?scape-goating? as we call it here in Zimbabwe. He (Mugabe) is really looking for somebody to blame, someone to lay his fault on. But the truth of the matter is that Britain or the European Union and the United States of America have never really stopped Zimbabwe from growing food, its own food, and even growing enough to export it,? he pointed out.