Education minister David Coltart has accused the West of encouraging and appeasing dictators in Africa.
Coltart, who is MDC MP for Khumalo in Bulawayo, made the startling remarks while delivering the annual Acton Lecture on Religion and Freedom at New South Wales Parliamentary Building in Sydney, Australia, on Tuesday.
The MDC secretary for legal affairs said Western nations were more inclined to applauding dictatorship than helping Africa to curb it.
“Many of the wars fought by the West have occurred because of the appeasement and sometimes encouragement of dictatorial regimes. In Zimbabwe, the West looked the other way when Zanu PF committed genocide in Matabeleland and even rewarded (President) Robert Mugabe with a knighthood in 1994 — this was mainly because they were more focused on keeping Mugabe out of the Soviet sphere of influence.
“In all these cases, the ultimate cost to both the West and the innocent citizens of those nations ruled by violent men has been enormous,” he said.
Coltart said the world was being dominated by the West, which had control over policies that affected the entire world and it was up to them to decide the fate of poor countries.
“Western nations need to reduce their defence budgets, they need to trust more that the consistent pursuit of principle provides greater security than bombs, they need to rechannel the money saved from defence spending into reducing inequalities between nations,” he said.
Coltart also blasted the reluctance by the West to embrace and support Zimbabwe’s inclusive government.
“In 2008 in Zimbabwe, we chose a flawed political settlement precisely to avoid Zimbabwe being plunged into a civil war. Sadly, some Western countries have not supported that process and in doing so are undermining our chances of making this non-violent process work,” he said.
Coltart said he was “appalled” by the billions of dollars spent in fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, bailing out the AIG company in the United States and the billions of dollars spent rescuing profligate Greece compared to the money spent on African education.
“The West has a moral duty to be better stewards of the enormous wealth it has, but a gulf between rich and poor remains.
“Some of these inequities are perpetuated by Western-dominated trade policies and by Western pursuit of self-interest,” he said.
However, Coltart said the West was not entirely to blame as Zimbabwe had its fair share of blame for the “near-total destruction of our economy”.