A Zimbabwean academic based in Britain says boycotting the European Union-African Union summit set for Brussels in April because President Robert Mugabe has been invited would be both hypocritical and silly because Mugabe is no worse than other African leaders who will attend the summit.
Writing in The Guardian, Blessing-Miles Tendi said: “It would be hypocritical to boycott because of Mugabe’s presence and yet say nothing about the participation of Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta, who is accused by the International Criminal Court of orchestrating post election violence in 2007-8 in which more than 1 000 people were killed.
“Other likely attendees, such as Angolan President José Eduardo dos Santos, Equatorial Guinea leader Teodoro Obiang, Gambia’s Yahya Jammeh and Swaziland’s King Mswati III, to mention a few, are hardly paragons of human rights protection either.”
British Prime Minister David Cameron is under pressure to boycott the summit to emulate his predecessor Gordon Brown who boycotted the 2007 summit in Lisbon.
African leaders threatened to boycott both summits if Mugabe was not invited.
Tendi said Cameron should attend the summit to mend relations with Zimbabwe.
“Engaging Mugabe is also the only way the UK can have constructive influence in Zimbabwe and bring to an end a detrimental diplomatic conflict which many politicians on both sides no longer have the stomach for,” he wrote.
“It has been evident for some years now that part of the UK policy on Zimbabwe was based on the belief that Mugabe would lose in the 2013 elections. So engrained was this belief in the UK’s Harare mission that when Mugabe won, diplomats there were apparently thrown into a state of disarray…….
“Another dimension to Britain’s stance towards on Zimbabwe has been the conviction that Mugabe will soon die, thereby resolving the diplomatic conflict. However, this belief and UK media speculation that the Zimbabwean president’s health is failing are misleading.”