kofi says mugabe has ‘shamed africa’

My favourite of all UN secretary generals (former and present), Kofi Annan has come out and blasted Robert Mugabe. I like Kofi more and more every day. Annan has told the Observer that there was a real possibility of a solution in Zimbabwe, but he was scathing about the plight the beleagured country’s people had been left in, saying the worsening situation there “shamed Africa”.

Annan, now head of the Africa Progress Panel, the watchdog set up to monitor the development promises made by the G8 countries, urged the west to rethink its image of Africa and not to allow Zimbabwe to bolster the stereotype of a continent in crisis. “Zimbabwe shames most Africans but at the same time its wrong to judge the whole continent on what is happening there, it is not a litmus test for the region. Mozambique came through a civil war extremely admirably,” he said. “You have Botswana doing extremely well, Malawi is making great steps to improve food production, Africans hear all about Zimbabwe and are as concerned as the rest of the world. It shames us Africans. “We all applaud the courage of the Zimbabwean people, they turned out en masse to express their will at the first election and we have to make sure that the Zimbabwean government understands that the will of the people has to be enforced.”

“They are talking of sending UN envoys in now and already I have talked to people involved and I would of course offer advice and my services.” Asked whether he would himself be willing to step in as a negotiator he said: “Of course I would help because I am an African.” “Each crisis has its own dynamics, its own personality, but in Zimbabwe, the leaders are also going to be held to account by the people and will have to accept that will of the people.” What may be more difficult is keeping the attention of the western countries.  “There is some measure of justification that with economic crises around the world, citizens in donor countries are themselves suffering and will be looking inwards. There will be pressure on politicians or certainly it will be their political instincts to placate their own voters and to look in a domestic direction. “In Africa, the problems are being now compounded too by issues caused by worldwide finances. High transport costs, fertiliser prices have quadrupled so African farmers are only tilling half their land at a time when we desperately need them to be producing food. “Climate change is already occurring and Africa is suffering because of the change in rain patterns, there’s progress but also we confront new problems with the global slow down.”

Annan spoke of the difficultites of getting an international consensus. “In the past decade, multilaterism has taken a hit, we have suffered a very grave setback after the Iraq war. But everyone is beginning to realise now, even the Americans, that we live in an interdependent world. No one government can settle major issues on its own. So the pendulum will swing back.” His greatest hope is in the young. “There are so many wonderfully talented people in Zimbabwe, in Africa, and there are other avenues opening to them, in business and as entreprenurs. The business sector is slowly developing. I’m a stubborn optimist. It does give me hope. I think Africa is going to be the next frontier and we are going to see Africa more going the way of those boom economies like India and China.

“People tell me the world is 50% optmist and 50% pessimist, but what I know for sure is that as an optimist I will die happier.”

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~ by k-rock and l-jive on July 18, 2008.

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