Robert Mugabe’s Alternative Speech at UN General Asembly

By IndepthAfrica
In Article
Sep 27th, 2012
1 Comment
155 Views

I stayed up last night to watch live the speech by President Mugabe at the UN General Assembly meeting in New York. When I was a boy, we would walk for miles to go and listen to Mugabe. In those days, he was eloquent, sharp and promising. Last night was a grim reminder that time is a relentless warrior.
“The speech itself was not unpredictable”….Dr Alex .T Magaisa

The speech itself was not unpredictable – we expected the rant against the West; the castigation of sanctions, etc. In many ways, President Mugabe speaks very passionately for the African continent; for the small nations – against the big lads on the international playground. He revels in that role and in recent years, isolated by the West, he has found it easier to throw the away the garb of diplomacy and does not hesitate to call a spade by its proper name, a circumstance that endears him so well to those who feel trampled upon and ignored by the bigger boys; to the “others” of this world.

No one can seriously argue with his statements about the apparent injustice of a UN system in which the Security Council is dominated by only a few powerful states; in which Africa and indeed the rest of the developing world does not have permanent representation or veto power and the General Assembly is no more than a talk shop. These are things that matter to small, marginalised countries and President Mugabe is always ready to stand up for them and one might add, that’s not a bad thing to do. The playground always does need the fellow who, feeling there is nothing to lose, stands up to the big boys.

Nevertheless, the irony of it all does not and cannot escape us. As I listened to the castigation of unilateralism; of bullies and war-mongers on the international stage, I thought to myself, does President Mugabe realise when he complains about these things on the international stage that these are exactly the same things that his opponents complain of on the national stage?

Does it ever occur to the President that when he asks for multilateralism, cooperation, peace, decency and fairness, that is exactly what his opponents ask of him on the national stage; that the frustration that he feels and expresses so eloquently regarding the arrogance of his nemeses on the international stage is exactly the same frustration that his opponents feel and express so loudly regarding his party’s arrogance on the national stage?

Does it occur that when he exhorts the international community to adhere to the values and principles of the UN Charter that is exactly what his partners under the Global Political Agreement (GPA) ask of him regarding the need for respect of the principles and values of that agreement?

So I thought, let us have a look at his speech and just turn the words slightly, so that where he refers to the “United Nations” we refer to the “Government of Zimbabwe”; where he refers to the “international” we refer to the “national”; where he refers to the “global” we refer to the “national” and where he refers to the “UN Charter” we refer to the “Constitution” or the GPA and see how that reads as an alternative national speech. And the following table presents a selection of nuggets from his speech. The first column captures what the President said and the second is a variation of the same which is the alternative – as it would read if it were made on the national stage, in response to local events and circumstances:

 

 

PRESIDENT MUGABE UN SPEECH HOW IT WOULD READ ON THE NATIONAL STAGE
President Mugabe:“In the quest for a more just and equitable international order, Zimbabwe strongly opposed to unilateralism, is committed to multilateralism. We therefore would like to see a United Nations that continues to be a guarantor of world peace and security, and a bulwark in the fight for justice mad equality among nations”.  The Alternative Speech:“In the quest for a more just and equitable national order, Zimbabweans are strongly opposed to unilateralism, are committed to multilateralism. We therefore would like to see a Government that continues to be a guarantor of national peace and security, and a bulwark in the fight for justice mad equality among people”. 
President Mugabe:“Equally important, the United Nations must in future never allow itself to be abused by any member state or group of States that seeks to achieve parochial partisan goals.  The Charter of the United Nations clearly stipulates it as an international body that should work for the good of all the peoples of the world”.  The Alternative Speech:“Equally important, the Government must in future never allow itself to be abused by any party or group of parties that seek to achieve parochial partisan goals.  The Constitution clearly stipulates it as an national body that should work for the good of all the peoples of Zimbabwe”. 
President Mugabe:“We have noticed, with deep regret, that the provisions of the United Nations Charter dealing with the peaceful settlement of disputes, have, on occasion, been ignored by the Security Council. In contrast, there appears to be an insatiable appetite for war, embargos, sanctions and other punitive actions, even on matters that are better resolved through multilateral cooperation”.  The Alternative Speech:“We have noticed, with deep regret, that the provisions of the GPA, have, on occasion, been ignored by the President and ZANU PF. In contrast, there appears to be an insatiable appetite for violence and other punitive actions, even on matters that are better resolved through multilateral cooperation”. 
President Mugabe:“The warmongers of our world have done us enough harm. Wherever they have imposed themselves, chaos in place of peace has been the result”.  The Alternative Speech:“The violence-mongers of our country have done us enough harm. Wherever they have imposed themselves, chaos in place of peace has been the result”. 
President Mugabe:“For the international community to successfully deal with global economic, social, security and environmental challenges, the existence of international institutions to handle them and a culture of genuine multilateralism are critical. The United Nations, its specialised agencies, and international financial institutions, are the only instruments available for responding effectively to the global challenges we face in this global village. It is therefore critical that these structures are reformed, and realigned in response to both global challenges and our contemporary realities, in order to better serve our collective interests.”  The Alternative Speech:“For the national community to successfully deal with national economic, social, security and environmental challenges, the existence of national institutions to handle them and a culture of genuine multilateralism are critical. The Government, its agencies and institutions are the only instruments available for responding effectively to the national challenges we face in this nation. It is therefore critical that these structures are reformed, and realigned in response to both national challenges and our contemporary realities, in order to better serve our collective interests”. 
President Mugabe:“This august Assembly is the most representative organ within the United Nations family. We must therefore dedicate ourselves to finding consensus on measures to revitalise it, so that it fulfils its mandate in accordance with the provisions of the Charter. We wish to reiterate our deep concern that the mandate, powers and jurisdiction of the General Assembly are shrinking as a consequence of the Security Council gradually encroaching upon the Assembly’s areas of competence. This, in our view, upsets the delicate balance envisaged under the Charter, and undermines the overall effectiveness of the United Nations system. The General Assembly must remain the main deliberative, policy-making organ of the United Nations.”  The Alternative Speech:“This august Parliament is the most representative organ within the State. We must therefore dedicate ourselves to finding consensus on measures to revitalise it, so that it fulfils its mandate in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution. We wish to reiterate our deep concern that the mandate, powers and jurisdiction of Parliament are shrinking as a consequence of the Government gradually encroaching upon the Parliament’s areas of competence. This, in our view, upsets the delicate balance envisaged under the Constitution, and undermines the overall effectiveness of the State system. Parliament must remain the main deliberative, law-making organ of the State”. 
President Mugabe:“For how long, Mr President, will the international community continue to ignore the aspirations of a whole continent of fifty-four countries? We shall not be bought-off with empty promises, nor shall we accept some cosmetic tinkering of the Security Council disguised as reform”.  The Alternative Speech:“For how long, Mr President, will the Government continue to ignore the aspirations of a whole nation of 13 million people? We shall not be bought-off with empty promises, nor shall we accept some cosmetic tinkering of the Constitution disguised as reform”. 

 

The point quite simply is that while the President tries to make all the right noises for the small boys on the world stage, it is useful to pause and reflect upon the fact that there are also small boys on the national stage who feel exactly the same way about him and his party and try to make the right noises for the small people on the national stage. When his Prime Minister complains about unilateralism in the appointment of Governors, Police and Military Commanders; when Welshman Ncube complains about being sidelined in the meetings of GPA Principals – they are the small boys who also feel ignored and harassed by the big boy on the national stage against the letter and spirit of the GPA. When ZANU PF arrogantly struts on the national stage and insists on wholesale and unreasonable changes to the draft Constitution simply to suit its own views, it is the same arrogance that the President accuses of the big boys on the international stage.

 

In short, much of what was said has parallels on the national stage. If he can listen to his speech as if it were spoken on the national stage by one of his partners, and if he can do what he exhorts his colleagues on the international stage to do, then Zimbabwe could be in a much better place. That certainly would be a good start because all those things makes sense on the international stage but they make sense on the national stage, too.

 Dr Alex Magaisa is a Lawyer and Senior Lecturer based at Kent Law School.This article was originally published at newszimnanweconstitution

Contact Alex via email at: wamagaisa@yahoo.co.uk

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS