Mugabe feasts while Burundi burns

AFRICAN Union (AU) political figurehead President Robert Mugabe has remained tightlipped while Burundi descends into chaos.

By Richard Chidza/Agencies


Mugabe is holidaying in the Far East, seemingly oblivious to his obligations as AU chairperson just over two weeks before he is expected to hand over to a new continental chairman. Yesterday, Mugabe’s spokesperson George Charamba refused to answer questions. “What can I help you with?” Charamba retorted after this reporter introduced himself.

Asked if the President as AU chairperson has made any efforts to assist with the deteriorating situation in Burundi, Charamba retorted: “Bye bye…bye bye.”

With the AU Commission’s December 17 deadline for Burundi to accept a 5 000-strong peacekeeping fo rce having expired without incident, the continental body’schief Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma in a statement yesterday threatened sanctions on warring groups both in Pierre Nkurunziza’s government and opposition formations.

“All those whose action could jeopardize the inter-Burundian dialogue, including attacks by armed groups against governmental facilities and other targets, as well as refusal to respond to the invitation of the mediator, shall be subjected to sanctions,” Dlamini-Zuma said.

Reports said representatives of Nkurunziza’s government and opposition met in Uganda on Monday and are due to meet again on January 6 in Arusha, northern Tanzania for talks aimed at ending months of violence.

Nine years following the end of a bloody civil war, Burundi is once again on the brink after Nkurunziza forced through constitutional changes to allow him a viciously opposed third presidential term raising fears of a return to all-out war in the tiny central African nation.

Between 1993 and 2006 at least 300 000 people reportedly lost their lives in ethnic violence between the minority Tutsis and majority Hutus.

According to media reports officials close to the negotiations there had been “no consensus yet” following the Kampala meeting. Nkurunziza has described the expected peacekeeping force as an “invasion force” and yesterday issued a stark warning it would be resisted.

“Everyone has to respect Burundi borders. In case they violate those principles, they will have attacked the country and every Burundian will stand up and fight against them. The country will have been attacked and it will respond,” Nkurunziza reportedly told state radio yesterday in his first public response to the unfolding drama.

The force, the African Prevention and Protection Mission in Burundi, is known by its acronym in French, MAPROBU.

While indicating a willingness to engage with Nkurunziza, Dlamini-Zuma said: “The rapid deployment of MAPROBU will go a long way in contributing to the creation of conditions conducive to the successful completion of the inter-Burundian dialogue”.

Mugabe accepted the AU chairmanship in January amid pomp and fanfare with his propagandists hailing it as a diplomatic coup for Africa’s elder statesman and a vote of confidence in his abilities as a leader.

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  1. Mugabe is no leader, just an old rabid dictator.

  2. Get your facts straight. President Pierre Nkurunziza did not change Burundi’s constitution to cling to power. President Paul Kagame just did that in Rwanda, as did President Yoweri Museveni in Uganda many years ago.

    1. You are right he didn’t change the constitution. He simply violated it. Same thing really because he is serving a third term while the constitution says he shouldn’t.

  3. AU paya kamuisapo yaifungei? this shows our backwardness as Africans….. how can u give a non performer such a portfolio?

  4. Is there anyone who actually believes Mugabe capable of resolving any crisis? Zim has been burning for nearly 2 decades. Mugabe is good at creating crises not resolving them.

  5. mugabe does not have the moral right to condemn the goings-on in Burundi. what nkurinziza of burundi is guilty of, mugabe is guilty of too. Africa is indeed a sick joke-how could african leaders appoint mugabe chairman of the AU given his tainted history as a leader. Nkurinziza is merely living and measuring up to what it means to be a leader in Africa as epitomized by the sitting AU chairperson.

  6. Silence means they support what is happening there. Its not a good idea to expect Mugabe to condemn when he is the master of violence.
    Africa needs to rubbish leaders who are selfish and continue to seek democracy. Institutions must preach democracy fully so that people practise it without fear of dictators.

  7. Talkn of sending troops to a country whose leader is just following the footsteps of the current AU chairperson whose country always violets human rights……..

  8. Cant wait for MAGUFULI to become the next AU and SADC chairman to put in line these so called hardliners and violators of human rights

  9. Practice what you Preach

    There should be a clause on some paper to deter Dictators from running Institutions like AU and SADC Wonder if the Legal faternity and members of Civil Society can push for this

  10. AU mandate here is also questionable, as the peace keepers can only go to Burundi at the invitation of authorities there, despite legitimate concerns about the sitting government. A dangerous precedent would have been set where foreign powers in cohorts with some African reactionary elements, as well mercenaries can coerce the AU to sent a force to any African country for the purposes of deposing the leadership and installing a puppet / client regime. There is need for AU to go back on the drawing board and refine the legal processes and treaties about intervention in member countries, as there are a lot of grey areas. In the meantime both parties of the conflict inside Burundi should desist from committing atrocities against unarmed civilians because they will be called to account sooner rather than latter.

  11. @ harishari. nice comment there mate, but called to account by who really?

  12. Truly, is Pres. Mugabe supposed to run to Burundi or he is supposed to delegate the relevant AU arm which oversees that? Is it not a fact that the mere talk of the AU peacekeepers shows that the AU is active in the affairs of Burundi.
    Shame on us for just commenting without critically looking at the facts.

  13. ComradePresidentDrAmai

    Mugabe retired a long time ago. He has no will or ability to address any national or continental challenges. He’s just a selfish figurehead, getting his share of the plundered African wealth like the rest of the cretins in power there. How can the leader of a banana republic wish a fellow banana republic leader to have a better banana republic than his?

  14. baba vakura but havasi kuda kuda kumbozvinzwa. He hates all reforms that will bring betterment to people s livelihoods if it doesnt come from ZANU

  15. I think Africans we still have a long way for us to reach to the point of boasting ourself that we mean what we say: Au for its decision to get support like the recent incident of send troops to Burundi normally it has to go to the UN Security Council if proper protocols were to been followed now given the kind of global division among the world power it is unlikely that the big elephants who enjoy the privileges of UN permanent membership will have a single common agreement. For example if AU decides to take the issue of sending troops to Burundi to UN security counsel, it will get backing from the west and its allays but at the same time world powers such as Russia and China will more likely veto it out and the whole shall be scraped of.
    Not only that even if we were to go alone and send troops without UN Securit counsel the source of funding this kind of mission is questionable, in most case finding has to be sought from the other sources, by the way
    When it comes to forcing our troops without the consent and support of the hosting government one might question our experience of executing this kind of programs.

  16. One might even question the rationale behind of establishing these numerous associations in Africa that cannot solve problems among themselves whenever there is a disputes that require immediate attention. If you have been following closely the issue of political turmoil in Burundi, you will conclude that it would not have required even AU intervention at all. Only East African Community would have solved it amicably if this bogus association was to be functioning in compliance to the treaties they signed among themselves. But the question that remains unanswered is, do the leaders of East Africa Community have the moral capacity to point finger to Pierre Nkurunziza? the complexity of this issue comes back to themselves again, because some of the heads of East Africa Community countries are working tirelessly to change their constitution to suit their political ambition like Nkurunziza. And some of them have been doing it for decades, It is for the same reasons that during their meeting in Dar es salaam Tanzania some chose even to maintain low profile because they knew that they had no point to offer at all. What is so embarrassing and disgusting is that some go to an extent of lying that they enjoy support of the people because they are delivering and hence are entitled to run as president for life, what nonsense is that? On the other hand real, what Nkurunziza is doing, he is probably trying to follow the footsteps of his older brothers, My advise to Burundians is to stop entertaining international community thinking that it has a solution to their problem. The durable solution to their problems shall be provided sorely by themselves and not UN, EAC, ECOWAS, SADC, etc.they got to sit down and look at the ambiguities within their constitution and try to correct them so that such problems should not repeat and also have a sense of patriotism of their country. The idea of resorting to violence, will not pay them any dividends rather than making the matter worse and ultimately trigger other unintended consequences to this little country that is still healing the wounds of the past 13 yeas violence. On the other hand, political dialogue or diplomacy so to speak should be given the maximum chance possible. Otherwise what is happening in Burundi, has happened in so many countries in Africa and people chose to not resort to violence. The idea of trying to prove themselves that they strong, different from others by resorting violence is just showing off. they got to understand that war can never be worn only peace can be won.

  17. You just said he is a political figurehead so what do you expect. When the time for figureheads to do the acting he will be called let the real directors do the job at mom

  18. The least he is expected to do is to make a comment on the Burundi situation to give a semblance of an AU Chairman who is alert and in touch. His silence truly gives a new meaning to “indifference”; even if for Zimbabweans it comes as no surprise.

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