Boycott EU/AU meeting: Vigil

The Vigil is writing to Prime Minister David Cameron urging him to boycott the EU/AU Summit in Brussels in early April if President Robert Mugabe attends. We think he should follow the example of his predecessor Gordon Brown who refused to attend a similar summit in Lisbon in 2007.

A large group from the Vigil stood in for Mr Brown in Lisbon, drawing attention to the human rights abuses perpetrated by Mugabe, who was reduced to hiring prostitutes from a local brothel to bulk up a counter demonstration led by the UK-based Zimbabwean ‘academic’ George Shiri .

Another Zanu (PF) apologist, Blessing-Miles Tendi of Oxford University, now says in an article in The Guardian newspaper that boycotting would be ‘both hypocritical and silly’. The Vigil believes that, on the contrary, a boycott would be both principled and sensible.

But Mugabe is not the sprightly nonagenarian portrayed by Tendi. He may perhaps be able to stay awake long enough in Brussels to spew vitriol at the West for keeping Zimbabweans alive but his regime is simply beyond redemption. It has shown that it is incapable of changing course. All it can do is engorge itself until it bursts – like a broiler chicken.

Tendi seems to think that because other African leaders invited to the Summit are murderers and thieves Mugabe must be acceptable. The Vigil does not buy this. The so-called sanctions were imposed on Mugabe and his cronies because of human rights abuses. There is overwhelming evidence that last July’s elections were stolen – so his regime is illegitimate. Why then should sanctions be lifted?

The UK remains the biggest donor of humanitarian aid to Zimbabwe. It has made it clear it would do more to help our country but Mugabe’s destructive policies and the rampant corruption of the Zanu (PF) regime make this impossible – not sanctions. To embrace Mugabe now would be to condone his odious rule which has reduced Zimbabwe from being one of the most prosperous countries in Africa to one of the poorest. For all their faults, you can’t say this about Angola’s Dos Santos, Swaziland’s Mswati III etc.

As for monsters like Dos Santos and Mswati masquerading as African leaders at the Brussels summit: we wish they would be treated in the same way as we would wish the EU to treat Mugabe. That’s not hypocrisy, it’s principle; it’s not silly, it’s sensible – if Africa is ever to more forward to real democracy.

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