Friday, November 30, 2007

(HERALD) Govt appreciates African solidarity: Mumbengegwi

Govt appreciates African solidarity: Mumbengegwi
Herald Reporter

ZIMBABWE will attend the forthcoming EU-Africa Summit on the understanding that the two continents will meet as equal partners but will not hesitate to defend itself if its bilateral dispute with Britain is dragged onto the agenda. Speaking to journalists after meeting African diplomats in Harare yesterday, Foreign Affairs Minister Cde Simbarashe Mumbengegwi said Zimbabwe hoped the meeting would focus on relations between the two regions.

He called on the meeting to express Zimbabwe’s appreciation towards fellow African governments that solidly supported and showed solidarity with it ahead of the summit.

"We hope the meeting would be a success and the two regions would discuss matters that could improve relations between Africa and Europe," said Cde Mumbengegwi.

He said Zimbabwe would not hesitate to defend itself if any country at the meeting tries to put it on the conference agenda because the summit had nothing to do with individual countries.

"We do not expect the meeting to drag in the discussion on the bilateral dispute we have with Britain but Zimbabwe is more than prepared to defend itself at the summit.

"We have an excellent case to defend and the summit can actually create an opportunity for us to present our case," he said.

Cde Mumbengegwi said Britain and its allies had been enjoying a monopoly on the international media and were able to propagate their views against smaller countries.

"The meeting would definitely give us a chance to present our case as opportunities would be equal," he said.

On threats to boycott the summit by British Prime Minister Mr Gordon Brown if President Mugabe attends, Cde Mumbengegwi said Zimbabwe was not concerned because Britain’s decision to attend or not was entirely its case.

"Countries are voluntarily attending the summit and those who do not want to attend can do so. What is important is that Africa is attending on its entirety and Zimbabwe is going to attend the summit," he said.

Zimbabwe was prepared for dialogue with anyone at the summit.

"Zimbabwe has never refused to talk to anyone. It will engage anyone at the summit because it has nothing to fear or to hide.

"Such a meeting provides countries to undertake informal discussions on the sidelines of the meeting. There are, however, those who even refuse to share a room with us."

Cde Mumbengegwi paid tribute to African countries for standing behind Zimbabwe in its bilateral dispute against Britain.

"We want to express our gratitude to all the African countries who have solidly stood behind us especially through the regional blocs, that is Sadc, Comesa, Ecowas and the Maghreb.

"Their amount of unity and solidarity in support of Zimbabwe is admirable. It is this support which forced Europe to accept the obvious," he said.

He paid tribute to South Africa President Thabo Mbeki and the Sadc bloc for standing by Zimbabwe while facilitating dialogue between Zanu-PF and MDC.

"Europe has recognised that Africa can not be divided. The EU wanted to choose countries to attend the meeting but that arrogance could not be accepted. We have to meet as equals and neither side has the right to dictate who should represent the continent."

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