Tuesday, June 19, 2007
By George Chellah in Harare, Zimbabwe
Tuesday June 19, 2007 [04:00]
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe is being punished for pushing the African agenda, Presidential spokesperson George Charamba has said. And Charamba said Western countries honoured African leaders so that leaders could do the West's bidding. In an interview, Charamba said manoeuvres by Western countries on Zimbabwe would not yield anything. Charamba said the period when President Mugabe attracted honours from Western countries was when he pronounced the policy of reconciliation.
"But even then he was looking for peace, he was looking for harmony. The moment he takes on the social grievance of the Zimbabwean people, then he is now being stripped off those honours, which means the West only saw his presidency in terms of serving Western interests not in terms of pushing the African agenda. And if a person gets punished for pushing the agenda of his own people then he belongs to the Lord,” Charamba said.
He said the West honours African leaders so they could do their bidding.
“And that’s exactly what Mugabe has refused to do. He says ‘whatever the honours, I am not going to stand flattered. I will stand for the interest of my people and my people need land, land which is owned by the British and those British on that land which belongs to my people will have to go’,” Charamba said. “That is the punishment which Mugabe is now suffering. He has failed to be a good servant of the Queen, failed to be a good servant of the British government and the punishment is now the withdraw of honours which are meaningless, as a matter of fact.”
Charamba further said even the decision by the University of Edinburgh to withdraw President Mugabe’s honourary degree was cheap politics by the British government.
“It’s amazing how institutions of higher learning can sink so low. But you are looking at a politician, a leader, and an academic, who has enjoyed recognition from various institutions, from Asia, Africa, Europe and Latin America. And also the President has 17 honourary degrees, five of which are from what you may call Western institutions and essentially these are British and American,” Charamba said.
He said the University of Edinburgh recognised President Mugabe for his excellent leadership in education.
“And Zimbabwe as we speak enjoys 96 per cent literacy levels that has not been taken away. What has been taken away is his honour, which the University of Edinburgh on its own accord decided to give to the President. They decided in their own wisdom to give it to him and at that time it was more Edinburgh borrowing fame from the President than the other way round,” Charamba said.
“The President already has seven degrees; first one a BA, second one a BED, third one a Bachelor of Laws then an LLM. He has a BAC in economics, he has a master of science in economics, then he has the seventh one - Bachelor of Administration. These are personal solid achievements, they are not honours. Now with such a man how do you reduce his stature at all?”
Asked what the President’s reaction was when his honourary degree was withdrawn, Charamba responded: “He has joked about it, in fact he didn’t even remember that he got that honour from Edinburgh in as much as he also doesn’t remember when he received the Knighthood which they so much talk about.”