President Robert Mugabe yesterday avoided tackling the controversial WikiLeaks issue, but dwelt on the Arab Spring that toppled some presidents including his bosom buddie, the slain Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, whom he mocked.
The octogenarian said apart from dishing out camels, four of which President Mugabe has, the Libyan dictator had no investment in Africa. Speaking at the ongoing Zanu PF conference in Bulawayo, President Mugabe described Gaddafi as “naive” by supping with the West and Europe where he invested heavily.
“Gaddafi made huge investments in the West, but little in Africa,” he said.
“Just a few years before he died he made the undertaking on investing in Africa, but we saw him dishing out camels and we got four which are at the farm.”
Contrary to high expectations that President Mugabe was going to rein in errant members of his party, he spoke at length about the revolutions in North Africa before touching on elections he now wants held next year.
Although there were whispers here and there about the controversial whistleblower WikiLeaks, President Mugabe skirted the issue which has a potential to tear the party down the middle ahead of the next harmonised polls.
The WikiLeaks cables rocked Zanu PF this year and implicated most of the party’s stalwarts, including most Cabinet ministers, in secret talks with American diplomats.
There was anxiety that President Mugabe would use his keynote address to speak on the United States diplomatic cables that exposed party bigwigs castigating him with some baying for his blood.
Instead, he spent almost an hour talking about his erstwhile slain counterpart Gaddafi.
“There we have seen momentous turbulence now collectively known as the ‘Arab Spring’. This wave of popular demonstrations has definitively challenged the political establishment, some of which had lasted for decades. Events in Libya and to a certain extent Egypt leave us unsure of what the end in those countries will be,” said President Mugabe.
The 87-year-old strongman said Zimbabwe, endowed with untapped natural resources, risked being invaded by the Western powers who have run short of resources.
“Countries like our own Zimbabwe which is so richly endowed with minerals and thus so dangerously marked by global imperialism, need to remain very vigilant always ready to sacrifice for the defence of our independence and natural resources,” he said.
President Mugabe took a swipe at some African countries on how they had handled the Libyan crisis saying the continent was fragmented.
“Against this naked intrusion, Africa was both unprepared and ill-prepared. Africa was disunited. The already weak continent weakened itself even further,” he said.
On indigenisation, President Mugabe said there was no going back and that it was not an election gimmick. Just before he concluded his speech, he also mocked the MDC-T insinuating it was a party fraught with promiscuity while Zanu PF was people-centred.
Soon after his two-hour-long speech, delegates could be heard saying they were disappointed the President did not drop a bombshell.
“We thought he was going to deal with those who have been double-dipping, but he surprised us all. I guess it’s because he does not want to divide the party,” said a delegate who preferred anonymity.