Zimbabwe’s exclusion at the US Africa Leaders’ Summit in Washington DC that started Monday has been described by analysts as a missed opportunity and a huge loss to the economic and international relations.
Report by John Mokwetsi, in Washington, DC, United States
Nearly 50 African Heads of State and Government will gather this week for a three-day event that would mark the first time an American President will convene Africa’s leaders at one conference.
President Robert Mugabe and three other African Heads of State, namely Sudan, Eritrea and the Central African Republic, were not invited to the summit. The summit is organised around the theme Investing in the Next Generation.
Participants are expected to discuss investment issues, peace and security, governance, and other topics.
Pedzisai Ruhanya, director for Zimbabwe Democracy Institute, said: “Those are huge economic platforms where the government should be present to interact with other nations and international conglomerates to woo them to invest in Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe requires international investment to create jobs for its citizens and to help broaden the revenue base of the State through taxes.”
Dewa Mavhinga, a senior African researcher at Human Rights Watch, reiterated that the country had missed “a golden opportunity to make amends” with the West.
“Given that we have a parochial government leadership that seems stuck in the past, the US-Africa Leaders Summit is a missed golden opportunity to make amends and start over a new governance leaf,” Mavhinga said.
“Zimbabwe was not invited to Washington on account of its poor governance and human rights record, but now may be the time to start cleaning up its image to enable it to be a fitting invitee next time.”
Nixon Nyikadzino, programmes manager for Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, said: “It is an indictment on President Mugabe for having failed to make the grade because of his dictatorial tendencies. It does not reflect a good image for our President to be cursed with three other leaders for simply failing to abide by the supreme law of the land by violating people’s rights.”
Nyikadzino said Mugabe’s absence was a clear message to dictators in Africa that authoritarianism does not pay.
African leaders have been silent on the exclusion of Mugabe from the summit and did not rally behind him the way they did when he was not initially invited for the European Union-Africa Summit early this year.