The Sunday Mail
Tinashe Farawo and Kuda Bwititi
Zimbabwe has pulled out of the discredited EU-Africa Summit set for this week as President Mugabe and his delegation will not be travelling to Belgium for the summit.
This followed the European bloc’s condescending attitude where it insisted on determining the African Union delegation to the summit.
The Summit, scheduled to kick off on Wednesday under the theme, “Investing in People, Prosperity and Peace”, now hangs in the balance following indications that other African leaders will also not attend.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Ambassador Joey Bimha told The Sunday Mail yesterday that President Mugabe will not travel to Brussels while Zimbabwe will also not be represented.
Ambassador Bimha said the President’s decision was motivated by the EU’s blatant disregard for the AU whose Peace and Security Council met last week and determined that Europe was holding Africa in contempt.
The AU PSC also advised member states not to attend the summit.
Ambassador Bimha said consultations were still ongoing to decide whether other AU members should attend or not. He added that unconfirmed reports suggested AU Chair President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz of Mauritania wanted the summit to proceed as planned.
“President Mugabe will not be travelling to the summit and there will be no Zimbabwean delegation at the summit. This means our seat will be empty.
“The European Union did not implement what was agreed on at the AU Summit in Addis Ababa. The continent has agreed that it is not the duty of the EU bloc to choose the delegation of the member states.
“Consultations are still ongoing within Sadc and the continent for a common position. I have spoken with Dr Tax (Sadc Executive Secretary) in the afternoon and she was still consulting with other heads of state in the region, but what is certain as of today is that there will be no Zimbabwean delegation at the summit.
“Yes, there are some unconfirmed reports that we have received that the chairman said the summit is still going ahead.”
The EU and AU are scheduled to meet in Brussels on April 2 and 3 to discuss strategic priorities between the two continents. The blocs will also review the Joint Africa-EU Strategy, which seeks to deepen relations through a “strengthened political partnership and enhanced co-operation at all levels”.
Ostensibly on account of its diplomatic row with Zimbabwe, the EU initially did not invite President Mugabe and only invited Zimbabwe. In diplomatic culture, Heads of State should be invited in their personal capacities.
The 22nd Ordinary Session of the AU General Assembly in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, earlier this year, resolved that African leaders would not attend the Summit if the President was not invited, prompting the EU to dispatch an invitation to Cde Mugabe after he was elected First AU Deputy Chair.
However, last week, the EU barred Eritrea from attending and instead invited Egypt, which stands suspended from the AU because of a military-backed uprising.
Interestingly, some EU members and the United States are believed to have played a behind-the-scenes role in the unrest, which toppled the legitimately elected president, Mr Mohamed Morsi, last year. Another full AU member, the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic, was also not invited, yet Morocco, which is not an AU member and colonised SADR, was invited.
Morocco pulled out of the AU (then the Organisation of African Unity) in 1984 because the bloc had accepted SADR’s membership two years earlier.
The EU also denied First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe a visa to accompany her husband to the meeting.
Midlands State University lecturer Dr Nhamo Mhiripiri yesterday said President Mugabe’s principled position must be supported.
He said it was important for Africa to stop tolerating the West’s “total disregard for other people’s sovereignty and independence”.
“It’s high time Africa stopped tolerating Europe’s arrogance. We must treat each other as equals and Africa should be supportive of this position,” he said.
University of Zimbabwe political science department head Dr Charirty Manyeruke said the “insulting actions of the West by denigrating the continent’s leadership need to come to an end”.
“It is important for the continent to stand by such principled decisions. They behave as if we have wronged them, yet we are the ones who have been on the receiving end for centuries.
“Let’s support the President and continue to tell them in their faces that we are masters of our own destiny.”