Opposition parties and political analysts yesterday described President Robert Mugabe’s threat to withdraw Zimbabwe’s membership of the United Nations (UN) as “suicidal.”
They added Zimbabwe’s comatose economy could not sustain itself without aid from international bodies.
Yesterday, the parties told NewsDay in separate interviews that the pull-out would trigger unmitigated suffering, disease outbreaks and deaths through the collapse of the health sector, water and sewer reticulation systems, which were largely funded by multilateral donors through UN agencies.
Analysts said Mugabe was further alienating Zimbabwe through his reckless comments by accusing other African leaders of cowardice, at a time his financially-hamstrung government is struggling to implement capital projects without donor assistance.
Addressing thousands of Zanu PF supporters on his arrival from the 71st UN General Assembly on Saturday, Mugabe threatened to mobilise other African countries to pull out of the UN in protest over the body’s alleged refusal to reform its Security Council.
He said Africa would form a splinter group headed by China and Russia if the UN Security Council remained unchanged at next year’s summit.
In December 2003, Mugabe unilaterally pulled the country out of the Commonwealth after the group, which comprises Britain and its former colonies, maintained its suspension of Zimbabwe over alleged human rights abuses.
Harare mayor and president of the Urban Councils’ Association of Zimbabwe, Bernard Manyenyeni, yesterday said the proposed UN pull-out would cripple all the cities and local authorities that were heavily dependent on aid sourced by UN donor agencies.
“The remark is undiplomatic and ungrateful. Right now, the UN is finalising hunger alleviation programmes for Zimbabwe, including urban areas. The UN has some other on-going positive interventions for our failed State, its footprint in urban interventions cannot be ignored — cities are desperate for more aid,” he said.
The UN, through its agencies, injects at least $1,6 billion into the country each year to support the Health Transitional Fund and Educational Transitional Fund, among other initiatives.
MDC-T spokesperson Obert Gutu said a government, which needed UN intervention to stop a cholera outbreak that killed over 4 000 people in 2007/8, could not honestly wish for an exit at any time.
“It would be a complete and unmitigated disaster should Zimbabwe proceed to withdraw from the United Nations,” Gutu said.
“Thanks to decades of misrule, mismanagement and rampant corruption by Zanu PF, Zimbabwean cities were virtually carried on the back of the UN as they failed to deal with sewerage reticulation and purchase of water treatment chemicals, resulting in an unmitigated cholera outbreak. As we face biting food shortages, the UN is feeding over a million of our people, while government is clueless. Imagine what would happen if, say, the mad man pulls us out.”
People’s Democratic Party spokesperson Jacob Mafume said Mugabe’s rants should be dismissed as “irresponsible political grandstanding”.
“Pulling out of the United Nations would be a disaster. The African nations must also remember that they are behind in paying their dues for the UN and African Union membership. They always want things they do not pay for. We have not benefited from our withdrawal from the Commonwealth. We thought African nations never followed us out,” he said.
“For Zimbabwe, it will be a disaster on issues like HIV and Aids, education and so on. He (Mugabe) must go and rest in peace, this old man.”
Zimbabwe People First top official, Rugare Gumbo, said given the significance of UN to Zimbabwe, Mugabe’s comments “are not rational, but made by a man who cares about nothing, but himself”.
“We cannot afford the same mistake he made when he unilaterally pulled out of the Commonwealth. We cannot survive alone in a global village without help given that we can’t even hold our own economy,” he said.
Gumbo described Mugabe as “a stubborn person, who is just worried about himself, his wife [First Lady Grace Mugabe] and children, and a legacy which is already in tatters”.
Analyst Pedzisai Ruhanya dismissed Mugabe’s call as “oxymoronic”.
“It’s not possible. His utterances show that he resides in another place which we don’t know. His bankrupt government is receiving budgetary support from UN agencies. Look at the work being done by Unesco [United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation], UNDP [United Nations Development Programme], which is even supporting the entire elections management of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission,” he said.
“He says he wants to move out of the league of nations, going where? To the stone age, the medieval era? We are living in a contemporary world . . . these are rantings of a deluded old man. Mugabe should just go and stay in some secluded place and stop pretending to run the country.”
Former Education minister and top MDC official, David Coltart, said: “Zimbabwe’s pull-out of the Commonwealth, Sadc Tribunal and the trashing of the International Criminal Court shows one should never underestimate his (Mugabe’s) destructive capacity.”
Analyst Rashweat Mukundu said Zimbabwe was a “basket case”, which could hardly provide food for its own people and a UN exit would be suicidal.
“Zimbabwe is a basket case as we have been fed by UN mobilised donors for nearly a decade. Our health, including HIV and Aids treatment, is anchored on international support. One could envisage that all this will collapse should Zimbabwe pull out,” he said.
“Should this happen, we have to negotiate an insurmountable number of agreements to re-engage with the world inclusive of trade, telecoms, health, diplomatic relations, environment management issues . . . that makes this threat idle talk”.
Mugabe UN exit call suicidal
Author: Blessed Mhlanga
Source: News Day