From Cecilia Banda in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
Victoria Falls, August 17, 2014, ZANIS —President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe has taken-over the Chairmanship of the 15 member Southern African Development Community (SADC) regional grouping at the 34th Heads of State and Government Summit which opened here today.
And President Mugabe has condemned the western world for perpetrating what he described as the most brutal demonstration of man’s inhumanity to man by keeping silent on the Israeli attacks on the Palestinian people in the Gaza strip.
Meanwhile, President Mugabe has thanked SADC for standing by his country at a time when his government faced serious challenges due to economic sanctions imposed by the European Union (EU) and the West.
President Mugabe has also warned that the over-reliance on the generosity and goodwill of SADC cooperating partners compromises the ownership and sustainability of the regional bodies programmes.
He added that the member states cannot proudly claim to be owners of the organization when close to 60 percent of the programmes are externally funded.
In his acceptance speech as the new SADC chairman taking over from Malawi’s President Peter Mutharika, President Mugabe told the Summit that it would be remiss of him not to talk about the recent brutalities that have been meted out against the Palestinian people.
President Mugabe said the western world which claims high moral ground on issues of human rights and the sanctity of life have looked with moral and academic indifference at the attack on Gaza while the Israeli army continues to butcher innocent women and children all under the guise of fighting terrorists.
“ This is the most brutal demonstration of man’s inhumanity to man, and it is criminal for the world to keep silent in the wake of such crimes against humanity’, said Mr Mugabe.
President Mugabe wondered whether the silence on the Gaza attacks by the western world were on the assumption that the Palestinian children who have died in the bombings would be future terrorists or that the women casualties would give birth to future terrorists.
And President Mugabe, whose country last hosted a SADC Summit 25 years ago, says Zimbabwe continues to undergo hurting economic sanctions imposed by the European Union and the West describing the them as illegal while the effects are debilitating to the economy and the people of Zimbabwe.
He thanked SADC for consistently calling for the removal of the EU and Western illegal sanctions on Zimbabwe adding that without the support of the regional grouping Zimbabwe would not standing on its feet today.
“we will remain eternally grateful for that…I say, once again, thank you SADC”, said President Mugabe.
President Mugabe also congratulated South Africa and Malawi for holding peaceful democratic elections earlier this year and that the regional body was optimistic that its three other members, Botswana, Namibia and Mozambique slated to go for Presidential polls later in 2014 will also abide by the SADC Principles and Guidelines governing democratic elections.
He also commended Madagascar for holding peaceful elections held in 2013 following a long period of political turmoil that saw the usurping of power from a sitting government by insurgents.
This led to the Indian Ocean Island country to be suspended from SADC for five years but successfully swore-in Hery Rajaonarimampianina who gave his maiden speech as President of that country during the official opening of the Summit today.
The theme for the 34th SADC Heads of State is ‘’SADC Strategy for Economic Transformation: Leveraging the Region’s Diverse Resources for Sustainable Economic and Social Development through Beneficiation and Value Addition”.