Friday, September 25, 2009

(TALKZIMBABWE) Mugabe on CNN: US sanctions unjustified

Mugabe on CNN: US sanctions unjustified
25/09/2009 00:00:00

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe said United States sanctions on Zimbabwe were “unjustified and illegal” in a rare live interview with CNN in New York. Mugabe, set to address the UN General Assembly on Friday, also defended his government’s programme to seize land from white farmers and parcel it out to landless blacks, calling it “the best thing that could have ever happened to an African country”.

He depicted himself as an African hero battling imperialism and foreign attempts to oust him rather than the widespread perception of a dictator clinging to power at the expense of the welfare of his people and country.

He rejected repeated assertions by CNN's Christiane Amanpour that his policies have driven the nation once known as Africa's breadbasket to virtual economic collapse.

Instead, Mugabe accused Britain and the United States of seeking to oust him by imposing economic sanctions, the effects of which he said were worsened by years of drought.

“The sanctions are unjustified, illegal … they are meant for regime change, they are meant to address that illegal principle,” Mugabe said in the interview in which he looked remarkably younger than his 85 years.

Making specific reference to the United States’ Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act 2001, Mugabe said: “The United States sanctions on us are real sanctions, economic sanctions. They prevent any companies from having any dealing with us, they prevent any financial institutions from having any relationship with us.

“The sanctions should lifted and we must have no interference from outside. Imperialist interest in our country is continuing to affect the country adversely.”

Mugabe insisted the sanctions, coupled with “successive years of drought”, were the real cause of Zimbabwe’s economic decline, although striking a positive tone about the country’s current state and future prospects.

“If you combine the effects of drought and effects of sanctions what do you get?,” he quizzed Amanpour.

Mugabe shot down the reporter’s charge that white farmers were being “hounded off their land”. “Not off their land,” Mugabe corrected, “it’s our land. They are British settlers, originally they have been British settlers.”

“But they are citizens, aren’t they?” quipped Amanpour.
“Citizens by colonisation? Seizing land from the original people, the indigenous people of the country, do you approve that?,” Mugabe retorted.

Mugabe revelled in the reporter’s erroneous reference to the 2005 Operation Murambatsvina as a campaign to “bulldoze houses, shanty houses” of black farm workers. She called it “Operation Drive out the Rubbish”.

“No, no. There was no operation of that nature,” Mugabe said. “You are mistaken about the Murambatsvina programme which had to do with slums, getting rid of slums. It had nothing to do with farm workers at all.”

Amanpour played Mugabe a 2008 clip of Archbishop Desmond Tutu in which he said the man who has led Zimbabwe since independence from white minority rule in 1980 should be tried at The Hague.

“That’s nonsense, it’s just devilish talk. He doesn’t know what he’s talking about, the little man,” Mugabe said.

But the “little man” is a Nobel Peace Prize winner, he’s a liberation fighter too, the reporter queried.

“What liberation?” South Africa … “You don’t know what his status in the ANC amounts to!”

Mugabe also refused to answer questions on whether he will stand at the next election, but justified his 29 years in power, insisting: “You don’t leave power when imperialists dictate that you leave. The regime change agenda is not just to get Robert Mugabe out of power, but Robert Mugabe and his party out of power.”

He said he would not be taking lectures from Britain about democracy. “Don’t forget,” he reminded Amanpour, “it was my party which brought democracy to Zimbabwe not the British. We had to fight the British for ‘one man one vote’.”

Mugabe addresses the United Nations General Assembly on Friday, the first since he formed a power sharing government with former rivals Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara in February.

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