African News

President Robert Mugabe’s farewell speech as AU chairman

By  | 1 February 2016 at 11:11 | 5971 views

Another year, another African Union meeting of African Heads of State.

But this year’s meeting of Africa’s top decision-makers is particularly interesting because of what transpired over the weekend in Addis Ababa, headquarters of the African Union where outgoing AU chairman Robert Mugabe (who has been replaced by Chadian President Idriss Deby Itno) made a very passionate and wide-ranging attack on Western countries and their leaders (a favourite topic of his).

In his speech President Mugabe of Zimbabwe, 91, began with some observations (he frequently abandoned his prepared speech) on the struggle of the people of Palestine from the 60s to date and appealed for a settlement of this thorny issue through UN Secretary General Ban ki Moon whose term ends this year.

Then he moved on to the tragedy of slavery and the slave trade and then colonialism in Africa with all their attendant evils. Mugabe is an expert on colonialism especially British colonialism having spent most of his life fighting against it first as a freedom fighter in the bush and later as leader of a sovereign Zimbabwe (formerly known as Rhodesia; named after Cecil Rhodes a British colonist). He has been in power from 1980 to date.

Then Mugabe made what many in the audience would consider a totally unexpected attack (though a comparatively mild one) on President Barack Obama (whose father was from Kenya in East Africa). In Mugabe’s opinion, Obama only speaks for the West, not for Africa. He also made a brief but poignant analysis of the plight of black people in the United States of America particularly in places like Harlem.

The core of Mugabe’s speech,as expected,is anchored in Africa’s determination to be part of the Security Council with veto powers if necessary,just like other countries. It’s a question of equality, dignity and respect, Mugabe said to thunderous applause.

Here is President Robert Mugabe’s hour-long speech, from the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC):