From Takunda Maodza in JOHANNESBURG, South Africa—
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe yesterday urged Africans to wake up and realise they are being set against each other by powerful nations that cause wars on the continent and loot resources as citizens fight. Officially opening the 25th Session of the African Union assembly at the Sandton International Convention Centre, the AU and Sadc chairman said it was time for Africans to be united and principled.
In Africa, he cited Libya as an example where citizens were set on each other while the enemy exploited resources.
President Mugabe said in the Middle East, the West, led by the US and Britain, deliberately created a lie to kill former Iraq President Saddam Hussein and their companies were busy looting that country’s oil as citizens killed each other.
President Mugabe said this should be stopped.
His remarks come as some parts of Africa are ravaged by foreign sponsored civil wars, which once started, are difficult to contain.
“There are those who wish our oil was theirs. They wish all we have, all that wealth is theirs. When they look at their little island, the British – naked with nothing to offer except coal which they’re burning every day – and America which has a vast territory, they say the oil we have isn’t enough to sustain us,” he said.
“There’s a lot in Africa where they don’t know what to do with it. They get it by hook or crook. Suddenly, they start a war. ‘Saddam is a cruel man. He’s preparing to slaughter others. He has weapons of mass destruction.’ Poor Saddam has no media and can’t answer convincingly.”
President Mugabe said the American lie over the late Hussein’s alleged possession of lethal weapons; saw the then British Prime Minister Tony Blair, blindly joining the Iraq war started with the hidden intention to steal that country’s oil.
“Little Blair says ‘I will follow the leader (then US President, George W Bush) wherever he goes’ and they go. They arrest him, had him tried and executed. Later they say we told a lie, now we’ve found Saddam Hussein has no weapons of mass destruction. (George) Bush and his brothers are sucking oil (in Iraq),” said the AU chair.
He added: “Same story is told about poor (Muammar) Gaddafi. It comes to the UN and they get the two-thirds majority and they go, leader of Britain, France and Italy. I never knew (ex-Italy Prime Minister, Silvio) Berlusconi loves fights, I knew he loved women. This time he goes with others, women later. Gaddafi is killed alongside his children. Look at the turmoil in Iraq and in Libya, all that to confuse the situation so that they can have an excuse to draw oil. As we fight each other they are busy drawing oil and enriching themselves.”
President Mugabe acknowledged that there were other African conflicts started by Africans themselves following political misunderstanding related to elections.
“There are others that ourselves can prevent like tribalism, racism and failure to agree in politics — who should rule and who should not? We put a yoke on our leaders, leaders must only have two terms when in Europe its democracy if people still want the leader let him continue,” he said.
President Mugabe, who earned applause from delegates throughout his speech, said in some instances African leaders sought to extend their rule illegally causing unnecessary civil wars. “You want another term you find an excuse and say first term was not a real term. It was parliament that chose me, now people must choose me and then there are fights. The fights have a habit to continue. You beat me yesterday, I will beat you tomorrow. Let us learn to be brotherly, to be principled and avoid causing problems to our people and the people become refugees.”
In some instances, noted the AU chair, trading in illegal drugs caused civil wars as some people sought to get rich by illegal means, leading to a confrontation with governments and subsequently wars.
President Mugabe said he was happy that he witnessed the signing of a peace treaty between Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita’s government and the Tuareg separatist rebels in May this year.
He urged the warring parties to see reason and ensure peace prevailed in Mali in honour of the wishes of its founding fathers.
President Mugabe said recurrent civil wars in Africa underscored the need to urgently operationalise the Africa Standby Force (ASF). “The prevailing instability in some parts of our continent clearly demonstrates the urgent need to fully operationalise the ASF and its Rapid Deployment Capability (RDC). We need to live up to our commitment to operationalise the African Standby Force by December 2015,” he said.
“This will be an important step towards the goal of silencing the guns by 2020, as peace and security are necessary prerequisites for achievement of Agenda 2063.”
He said he was happy that progress was being made in this regard. The last meeting of the Specialised Technical Committee on Defence and Security was held in Victoria Falls from May 11-16 this year. It established that most of the Regional Standby Forces had reached full operational capability.
“To this end, we look forward to a successful outcome of the Amani Africa II Field Training Exercises to be hosted by the Sadc region here in South Africa towards the end of 2015,” said President Mugabe.
He stressed the need to redouble efforts in dealing with the issue of loss of lives by African youths in the Mediterranean Sea in a desperate bid to reach Europe.
President Mugabe said urgent collective efforts were required to deal with the unfolding tragedy by addressing the root causes, which he cited as poverty, war and insecurity, among other things. “We should take all these measures with the objective of managing immigration rather than barring or inhibiting it. Suffice to recall that human migration is as old as the human race itself. We’ve an obligation to facilitate and create conditions that are conducive and promotive of that movement.”
He condemned the recent spate of xenophobic violence in South Africa. “Let’s be cognisant of the fact that this is a regional problem that calls upon all of us to put our heads together to find a lasting solution. United as we’ve ever been, we will not fail,” said President Mugabe.
He said it was encouraging that the South African government was working hard to stem the xenophobia.
The AU chair appealed for understanding, solidarity and support as Africa works towards strengthening its democratic institutions at national, regional and continental levels.