Zambian President Michael Sata last week told American investors that President Robert Mugabe was “overnourished”, but the majority of Zimbabweans were suffering due to sanctions imposed by Western countries.
Report by Staff Reporter
Sata – who has always come to Mugabe’s defence in a region increasingly growing impatient with the long-time ruler’s reluctance to reform – said the sanctions were not working.
He said the 88-year-old ruler and his inner circle remained insulated from the measures imposed a decade ago to punish Zanu PF leaders for alleged human rights violations.
“Today, you have sanctions against Mugabe, but the sanctions are not affecting Mugabe,” Sata was quoted by Zambian media yesterday telling the 40 businessmen at the United Nations in New York.
“You saw him at the United Nations (last Wednesday), he is overnourished and Mugabe, whom you are trying to target, is here, but his people cannot afford a meal a day.”
“And you find that Mugabe is much more clever than the people who applied for sanctions.He said: ‘Now the currency being used in Zimbabwe is American dollars’.So he used American dollars, where are you now?”
Mugabe and other senior Zanu PF officials are banned from travelling to the United States and Europe, but cities that host UN events are obliged by international law to welcome them.
He usually travels with a bloated delegation whenever he gets the chance to travel to the US or Europe for UN conferences.
Sata told the investors that Zimbabwe was “most unfortunate” and the sanctions had crippled the country’s economy.
“Previously Zimbabwe had a much better business climate (than Zambia) and even today, we are still importing things like agriculture products from Zimbabwe,” he said.
The Zambian leader, who came to power last year, also claimed that Zimbabwean white commercial farmers who had settled in his country were now returning home.
“Those farmers who made Zimbabwe to get sanctions have started going back to Zimbabwe and they are buying back the farms from those Africans who were given the farms and Mugabe does not interfere,” Sata claimed.
But Mugabe has on several occasions threatened to repossess land from the so-called new farmers found leasing their plots to the former land owners.Sata said Zambia could not isolate Zimbabwe because many people in the two countries were related.
“We are very close to Zimbabwe because Zimbabwe and ourselves are Siamese twins,” he said. “If we try to isolate Zimbabwe, we are doing it at our own peril.
“We have villages which are divided in between by Zambezi River.”
Sata’s predecessors, Rupiah Banda and the late Levy Mwanawasa, were outspoken against Mugabe, with the latter accusing the Zimbabwean leader of running down the country.