It is also a fact that Ethiopia has played a prominent role in the process of the struggle for freedom, which preoccupied the African continent throughout most of the 20th century.
Many countries throughout the African continent have benefited from Ethiopia’s diplomatic and material assistance during their periods of desperate struggle for independence from colonialism. Examples of this remarkable support include the Ethiopian Government’s support for liberation fighters such as Nelson Mandela who has acknowledged, in his own book, that he had received military training and financial support in Ethiopia. It is to be recalled also that Ethiopia was the main party that took the racist apartheid regime of South Africa to the International Court of Justice pressing for the liberation of Namibia, a country that is now free and prosperous.
One country that benefited from Ethiopia’s support for its struggle against racism and colonialism was Zimbabwe. Those in authority there know the full extent of the very substantial assistance provided to them by the Ethiopian government and people during their struggle for freedom.
How did the Mugabe government express its gratitude for this generous assistance? It gave refuge to Ethiopia’s worst dictator, Mengistu Haile Mariam, a criminal whose record should subject him to prosecution at the International Court of Justice. This is an insult to the Ethiopian people. Shame on the Zimbabwe Government!
A polite query for Mugabe: could it be possible that your betrayal of the Ethiopian people for USA dollars (referring to your government’s admission of having given refuge to Mengistu at America’s behest) may have had something to do with the total failure of your government policy and devastation of Zimbabwe’s once vibrant economy?
Whatever Ethiopia did in support of Africa’s struggle for freedom emanated from its own belief in independence. It, therefore, does not crave gratitude from recipients of its support during their struggle for freedom. Nevertheless, there is no doubt that the people of Zimbabwe would not support their government’s action of harbouring a criminal that had inflicted a grievous damage on the Ethiopian people.
Dictator Mengistu presided over a regime that was responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent people but, thanks to the Zimbabwe Government, has yet to face justice and be accountable for his odious crimes. The tragedy that could ensue from this circumstance is that murderous dictators like Mengistu and Liberia’s Taylor could set an unfortunate trend for other irresponsible leaders to engage in similar abuses of authority and take refuge with like minded dictators. Mugabe himself is a case in point.
There will be time when sooner or later the present Zimbabwe regime will be removed and the people of Zimbabwe will offer their formal apology to Ethiopia for having given refuge to one of the most vicious and murderous dictators the world has ever seen.
“Ethiopia shall raise its hands unto God.” (Psalm 68:31) – Kidane Alemayehu is a retired United Nations official residing in USAPost published in: Opinions & Analysis