President Mugabe blasts US, Britain
Posted: Tuesday, October 18, 2005
From Innocent Gore in ROME, Italy
IN a stirring speech which laid bare the open and underhand destabilisation manoeuvres of the United States and Britain, President Mugabe yesterday strongly denounced the two countries for continuously meddling in the internal affairs of developing countries.
This came in the wake of a statement by the US Ambassador to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Mr Tony Hall, who had criticised the United Nations food agency for inviting the President to the organisationís 60th anniversary commemorations.
Mr Hall was quoted in a number of newspapers here and on the Internet as saying the US was amazed that Cde Mugabe had been invited to speak at the FAO anniversary and that the President had "done so much to hurt the hungry" and had "absolutely turned his back on the poor".
Departing from his prepared speech, President Mugabe said Zimbabwe is a UN member and the world bodyís agencies such as FAO and is not an extension of the US.
"Again we have a situation where some countries like the US and Britain have taken it upon themselves to decide and even interfere in our domestic affairs and want to bring about what they call regime change. Where is their morality? Where are their principles? Democracy bids that any political change in any country is the right of the people of that particular country and not the right of a foreign country.
"My people have the right under our Constitution, which is a democratic constitution, to decide who shall govern and who shall not and which party they prefer. We have a multi-party system, but if the US is going to say ĎI am big and stand for all humanityí and the voice of Mr Bush and Mr Blair can decide who shall rule in Zimbabwe, who shall rule in Venezuela, who shall rule in Iraq, who shall rule in Iran, what world are we living in?"
To applause from the audience, Cde Mugabe asked whether the world should allow Mr Bush and Mr Blair to do the same as what fascist rulers Adolf Hitler of German and Benito Mussolini of Italy ó who provoked the 1939-45 Second World War by initially attacking small states in defiance of the League of Nations, the predecessor of the UN ó had done and attack an innocent country like Iraq after lying that it possessed weapons of mass destruction.
"Look at the scene in Iraq now ó everyday violence, women and children suffering. Who is responsible for that? And that was done in open defiance of the United Nations Charter, defiance of the Security Council, and defiance of us all. Yes, voices were raised in Europe, we heard them, some said no, thatís wrong. But they went on these two on the unholy campaign and what we have now is that inferno in Iraq. Is this what we want to see?
"They continue to threaten us the small countries. Venezuela because of the oil, Iran being threatened and they say you North Korea dare not conduct any nuclear experiments. Neither must you in Iran. Neither must anyone else. But only we are entitled to possess weapons of mass destruction and now they are destroying their own, they have atomic nuclear bombs. They wonít destroy them but they want everyone else not to make them. Who are they? Must we allow them that possession?
"It is that arrogance that we see expressed by this agent of imperialism, Tony Hall.
"I thank you for defying him. I thank you (FAO director general Dr Jacques) Diouf for inviting me. I thank you (Venezuelan President Mr Hugo) Chavez for having mentioned Zimbabwe (in his address to the conference earlier on) and praised it."
President Mugabe said he was aware of the dangers and threats to Mr Chavez coming from the US. He said he was also aware how Mr Chavez was humiliated during his recent visit to the US when some of his security men and his doctor were denied entry into the country.
"Is this the world we desire? The world of giants and international terrorists who will use their muscle, state muscle in order to intimidate us? We become midgets.
"I say small as I am with only 14 million people, I have a soul, I have a heart, I have a conscience and I dare not allow anything that is untoward to happen to my people."
Cde Mugabe said he had been imprisoned for 11 years by the Smith regime for fighting for freedom and independence and together with the late Vice President Joshua Nkomo, they had dislodged British colonial rule and brought democracy to Zimbabwe.
"And we will not see Zimbabwe becoming a colony again," he said, again to much applause.
"I thank those who have supported us; I thank those in Europe who continue to work with us; I thank all who are driven, whose conscience is driven by morality, by honesty, by good neighbourliness, by doing to others what you would want others to do unto you.
"We stand by principle, by honesty, by virtue.
"Thatís my teaching, the Jesuits taught me to die for principle and I stand by that. I am Catholic like Chavez and I am a Catholic to the end with my principles which I hold as sacred. I serve my people and I served them when I went to prison. I shall serve them again, but serve them in a context in which we co-operate. We have Sadc, the development community of Southern African."
Sadc countries work together and if there is drought in the region and one country has surplus food, others buy from that country. Zimbabwe had enough funds to buy food for drought relief but if charity comes its way, it will receive it, Cde Mugabe said.
"But we are able to buy food from South Africa this year to save our people. That is how we are organised in Sadc. We have a community which also takes care of the political situation and security in our region.
"Overall, we have the AU (African Union) now and we donít need America, we donít need Britain, except in the global context, but not as our mentors," said the President.
In his prepared speech, Cde Mugabe said there was need for the depoliticisation of international humanitarian assistance.
While commending the response of the international community to natural disasters such as droughts and floods caused by climate change and which had affected production systems and wreaked havoc on the transport and communication infrastructure, the President noted that there had been unfortunate instances where the provision of humanitarian assistance had been politicised often on the basis of ideology, race and religion.
Saying there was urgent need for a multilateral response to address the challenges of climate change, he called upon developed countries to accede to the relevant multilateral environment agreements and to meet their obligations and fully implement the action plan of the World Summit on Sustainable Development.
Another challenge to sustainable agriculture and food security, particularly in Africa, was the HIV/Aids pandemic, which had affected mostly the productive age groups, thereby depriving the sector of vital skills, expertise and labour.
The President said there was still need for a comprehensive and robust global response to HIV/Aids so as to promote greater access to affordable anti-retroviral drugs and balanced nutrition.
"The world should respond to the HIV/Aids menace with the same zeal, resolve and resources as we have deployed on the war against terror," said Cde Mugabe.
He also called upon countries to increase their budgetary support to FAO, saying a well-resourced FAO can play a critical role towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.
In Africa, he said, investment in sustainable agricultural production is of core essence for providing food and employment, both critical components in the fight against hunger and poverty.
It was for this reason that in 2004, the AU Assembly agreed to implement the New Partnership for Africaís Development (Nepad)ís Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme, which commits African governments to allocate at least 10 percent of their national budgets to agriculture.
President Mugabe said the land reform programme was not only an economic empowerment undertaking and a redress of the past gross imbalances in land ownership which were institutionalised by British colonial rule, but was also the provision of a wealth-creating resource.
He said the constitutional amendment had brought finality to the previously long-protracted legal process of land acquisition and provided greater clarity to land tenure.
Venezuelan President Chavez said global hunger was a political problem, which needed the intervention of political leaders. He said FAOís budget of US$1 billion was inadequate for its operations in poor countries of Africa, Latin America and Asia. In glaring contrast, US companies were given more than that in subsidies a day and the American defence budget was US$500 billion a year, which was enough to finance FAO operations for 500 years, Mr Chavez said.
He said it was impossible to halve the number of hungry people in the world by 2015 as long as there was no political solution.