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Zimbabwe: President raps 'gang of four'
Posted: Monday, December 10, 2007

From Itai Musengeyi in LISBON, Portuga
December 10, 2007

The Herald

President Mugabe yesterday castigated Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands and Denmark as the "gang of four" for speaking on behalf of Britain while Europe's division over Zimbabwe was once again exposed at the EU-Africa Summit.

African leaders stood by Zimbabwe saying Europe was uninformed on the situation in the country.

In his response to the four countries' criticism of Zimbabwe, Cde Mugabe described them as "the gang of four which did not speak their own minds, but the mind of (British Prime Minister Gordon) Brown".

German Chancellor Angela Merkel led the attack on Zimbabwe when the summit opened on Saturday.

Reliable sources said Ms Merkel was given the burden to speak on behalf of the absent Mr Brown, who stayed away in protest against Cde Mugabe's presence.

She even requested South African President Thabo Mbeki to inform President Mugabe that she "shall be attacking Zimbabwe because her constituency" demands that, sources said.

Ms Merkel was also said to have asked Mr Mbeki to request President Mugabe not to be "hard-hitting" in his response to her comments.

But President Mugabe told the summit that the four were bidding for Britain although they did not have any problem with Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe also took the position that it also had a constituency which demands that it responds accordingly, sources said.

Europe's division over the Zimbabwe issue once again came to the fore at the summit as those countries in northern Europe attacked Zimbabwe while Italy, Spain, France, Greece, Belgium, Austria, Romania and Finland did not mention Zimbabwe.

Finland was the only Nordic country that refrained from attacking Zimbabwe.

This confirmed northern Europe as the hardliners while the southerners have a different approach on Zimbabwe.

Since the start of the bilateral dispute between Zimbabwe and Britain over the land issue, northern Europe has taken sides with Britain while southern Europe has kept an open mind.

President Mbeki, who is mediating in talks between Zanu-PF and the opposition MDC, requested to be given the floor when he finished his prepared speech to respond to Ms Merkel's utterances.

He told her that "I am the mediator on Zimbabwe" and as such was well informed on the situation that was being discussed.

Mr Mbeki said the death of the son of Cde Patrick Chinamasa, one of the Zanu-PF negotiators, had delayed the signing of an agreement between the two parties.

In his intervention on the debate on peace and security, President Mugabe said Africa had already taken necessary steps to put up the required infrastructure.

"We know what the challenges are, what the strategies should be, and what the solutions should involve. Help in marshalling resources is what we need. Meetings such as this should do less of telling Africa what it already knows, and more of addressing this question of resources," Cde Mugabe said.

He disagreed with suggestions that the second EU-Africa Summit could not be held because of Zimbabwe.

"Many have regretted the failure to host this meeting on time, and some from the EU side have said the issue was Zimbabwe. I beg to differ. The problem was arrogance from the EU side.

"There were no preconditions from Zimbabwe, or Africa, for the holding of this meeting. Yet those who today talk rhetorically of equality, partnership and mutual respect would impose their will on Africa so very blatantly. And all that was done on trumped-up charges against Zimbabwe. Unbiased observers have commented very favourably on the state of democracy, respect for human rights, and rule of law in Zimbabwe.

"Why then the demonisation from Europe? Because Zimbabwe dared to repossess its land, which had been stolen by the colonialists at the point of the gun. Our fight is therefore with the former colonial power in Zimbabwe, the United Kingdom. Zimbabwe certainly has no quarrel with the four European countries that made hostile interventions against Zimbabwe yesterday (Saturday).

"The fiction they parade is either the result of British propaganda or perhaps a misguided sense of racial solidarity with the white farmers in my country," said Cde Mugabe.

Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade, who was in Zimbabwe two weeks ago, said Ms Merkel was speaking from an uninformed position.

He said Africa had spoken with one voice and got Zimbabwe to attend the summit but the Europeans had failed to convince Britain to come to the meeting.

African leaders refused to be lectured on human rights, governance, trade and peace issues by their European counterparts and flatly rejected being hurried into signing economic partnership agreements.

"I don't think we are here to receive lectures from you (European leaders). We are here as friends seeking to work together," said Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.

He added: "Colonialism is intrinsically negative and Africa still suffers from it."

President Wade criticised European leaders for trying to pressure African countries into signing new trade deals saying China's approach was winning more friends.

"Today it is very clear that Europe is close to losing the battle of competition in Africa," he said.

AU commission president Mr Alpha Konare warned Europe to "avoid playing certain African regions off against each other".

"It's important we avoid patterns of thinking that belong to a different era. No one will make us believe we don't have the right to protect our economic fabric," he said.

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