ZIMBABWE – Zimbabwe’s opposition has dismissed threats by President Robert Mugabe that African countries might one day quit the United Nations if they were not given permanent member seats on the UN Security Council.
“The bosses in the Security Council say you shall never have the powers that we have as permanent members. Reform, the Security Council. Reform.” Those were Mugabe’s fiery words as he handed over the African Union chairmanship to Chad’s president Idriss Deby over the weekend.
The international community shouldn’t be surprised, he added, “if we decide – and we shall certainly do so one of these days – down with the United Nations, we are not members of it.” Mugabe berated the UN for failing to award Africa permanent seats on the Security Council, saying that African countries were only artificial members of it.
Zimbabwe’s opposition however condemned Mugabe’s speech. It would like the government to focus more on political and economic issues affecting the southern African country.
Douglas Mwonzora, the Secretary General of Zimbabwe’s main opposition party Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), told DW that he sees Mugabe’s speech as a distraction from the real issue at hand.
“The people who need reform are President Mugabe and [those like him] on the African continent, who are suppressing the people’s will,” Mwonzora said. “African people want African governments to be responsible and embrace democratic values. They cannot want to reform the world without reforming themselves,” he added.
Zimbabweans condemn leader over remarks
Ordinary Zimbabweans also criticized their leader’s calls for African countries to leave the UN. “As Zimbabwe continues to isolate itself from the international community, ordinary people continue to suffer. We cannot live in isolation as a country,” one Harare resident told DW. “Pulling out of the UN means we cannot get drought relief from some of the organizations that are affiliated to the UN. The UN is there for the ordinary people of Zimbabwe. It is not there to settle scores,” he added.
Another resident voiced similar thoughts on the matter: “Mugabe is not thinking about Zimbabweans because right now we have got drought, and if he is to pull out of the UN, it means the ordinary Zimbabweans that are going to suffer at his expense.”
For the last 18 years, Zimbabwe’s economy has suffered immensely under it’s government’s land reforms and the subsequent economic isolation by the international community. According to the UN’s World Food Program (WFP), a combination of political instability, economic and climatic factors have taken a toll on the country’s ability to produce enough food for its population.