The Mugabe interview that set tongues wagging

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The following is a transcript of Christiane Amanpour’s interview with Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, dating back to September 2009. It took place one day before Mugabe was to address the United Nations that year.

What are you going to ask? Are you going to ask President Obama to lift the sanctions that are imposed?
Not really. I haven’t come here for President Obama to address the United States alone. I’ve come here to address the General Assembly, which is part of the United Nations’ structures. And we are entitled to discuss matters that affect us in the global environment and the matters that affect us in a particular way as Zimbabwe. And this is what I’m going to do.
So you – but you are obviously calling for sanctions to be lifted.
Yes, that I will do, certainly. The sanctions are unjustified, illegal, and they are meant for regime change, to address that illegal principle.
You say for regime change, but it all really is about trying to get the political situation stabilised. And for the last year, you’ve been in so-called power-sharing agreement with the leader of the opposition, Morgan Tsvangirai. What does power-sharing mean to you? Many people say that it’s in name only right now.
No. It is really power-sharing. And that power-sharing is encapsulated in an agreement we call the global political agreement. And this was arrived at through the facilitation that we got from South Africa, and specifically through the facilitation by former president Thabo Mbeki.
The problem, though, is, Mr President, that many people are saying that you’re still – and your party – is trying to sort of reduce the MDC majority or their officials in parliament. There are MPs who are being arrested. They’re being charged with alleged crimes to prevent them from being able to take office. Why is this still happening?
First, may I make this quite clear, that the global political agreement was arrived at after a series of meetings which involved not just ZANU-PF, as represented by myself and our negotiators, and numbered also between ZANU-PF and the MDC, as represented by Tsvangirai and Professor Chambara and their negotiators.
Right.
And these – these provisions in the global agreement were reached after very strenuous discussions had taken place.
Right. But the question really is…
And so they were not – they were not forced upon us. We – we came to…
No, but the question really is…
We came to them deliberately.
All right. So why then…
We arrived at them deliberately.
All right. So if you say you arrived at them deliberately, why then are their MPs and officials still being harassed?
Because the issue of those who have been arrested is a different matter altogether. Some of them had committed crimes before the global agreement, crimes such as rape and kidnapping. You couldn’t — you couldn’t let people who have committed such crimes get away with it merely because there is a global agreement.
Has Roy Bennett committed a crime? Why is he not being sworn in?
Roy Bennett has been charged, and on the face of it the charges are very serious. But I’m told – and I’m told this by the leader of the MDC – that the prosecution is addressing … no evidence. There are no witnesses. And I’ve said, if there are no witnesses, the prosecution will arrive at a time when they will say so.
So charged with what?
But let’s not read that for them. Let them read that conclusion on their own.
Do you think that he will – do you think that he will be appointed?
I have – yes, yes, yes, if he’s acquitted, he will be appointed.
But charged with what?
Charged with … with having, you know, tried to put … I think he was found responsible for … that’s the allegation. The allegation is that he’s responsible for organising arms of war against Zimbabwe…
Well, we’ll obviously have to ask him about that, but…
… and… and… and that this… these are the charges that are being made on the face of them.
Well…
But if the prosecution cannot prove that, in fact, he did so, that, in fact, he’s guilty of, you know, trying to organise, you know…
Mr Mugabe, that’s certainly the first I’m hearing of it, and we will, obviously, put that to them. But can I say this? There are a lot of people – and you heard in that report – who considered you an African hero back in 1980, that you came and… some of my own friends, Rhodesians, some of the people I’ve worked with who were in the Rhodesian army, then became journalists in Rhodesia were stunned by the conciliatory nature and the addresses that you gave back in 1980…
Yes.
… and describe how, for 10 years, your policies led to prosperity, led to successes in mining and agriculture, and all sorts of things, and then, over the last 10 years, things have really gone south in a big and bad way. Why is it that that’s happened?
Over the… over the last 10 years…
No, no, since land reform. And… and remember that the presidents of Mozambique and Tanzania, when you took the country to liberation, said to you that you have the jewel of Africa in your hands, now look after it.
Yes, we are looking…
Did you look after it?
Yes, in a very great way. Over the last 10 years, we have had ZIDERA, the sanctions imposed on us by… by the United States, plus sanctions imposed upon us by the European Union, over the last 10 years.
Right, but they were specifically targeted sanctions…
No.
… against individuals, not against the trade or development.

Zimbabwe… no, no, no, no. The United States’ sanctions on us are real sanctions, economic sanctions. Have you looked at that? Look at them, and you’ll satisfy yourselves that they prevent companies from having any dealings with us.
But they’re very, very specifically targeted.
They prevent any… any… they prevent any financial institutions…
But how do you account…
… also from having any relations with us.
… for these incredible statistics, where, since you took over, life expectancy has dropped, manufacturing has fallen…
But I’m just telling you… I’m just telling you…
One in 14 people are malnourished…
I’m just telling you the reasons. It’s because of sanctions mainly.
But everybody says it’s not because of sanctions. It’s because of mismanagement.
Not everybody says so.
Most people do. Most independent observers say that.
In Zimbabwe — it’s not true.
How to get out of this now? How to get out of this? Do you think — for instance, right now…
The sanctions… sanctions must be lifted, and we should have no interference from outside. The continued imperialistic interference in our affairs is affecting the country, obviously.
I would like to play one sound bite by a neighbour of yours, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who said the following.
[ARCHBISHOP DESMOND TUTU, NOBEL PEACE PRIZE WINNER: He’s destroyed a wonderful country, a country that used to be a breadbasket. It has now become a basket case itself. But I think now, I mean, that the world must say, “Look, you, you, you have been responsible with your cohorts, you have been responsible for gross violations and you are going to face indictment in the Hague, unless you step down.
How do you respond to that, first that you’ve taken the breadbasket of Africa into a basket case?
No, it’s not a basket case at all. Last year we managed to grow enough food for ourselves. We are not a basket case anymore.
One in fourteen people are called malnourished.
No, no, no, no…
Your country is practically dependent on humanitarian aid.
Just now… you’re not talking of the present.
I know things have got slightly better in the last year…
They have got much better in terms of food.
But it’s still like a war zone.
People have grown enough food for themselves. We have had years, continuous, successive years of drought. Don’t forget that. And in addition…
I’ve seen the drought figures. I’ve got all the statistics here.
Sanctions, as well…
Yes.
Combine the effects of drought with the effects of sanctions, and what do you get?
Well, and the effect of what many people are saying is the land reform that really created this huge discrepancy in your ability to farm.
The land… Yes, but the land reform is the best thing that could ever have happened.
The best thing?
Yes, that could ever have happened to an African country.
We will talk about it in a second.
It has to do with national sovereignty.
OK. Let’s talk about it in a second.
I will never, never, never, never surrender. Zimbabwe is mine. I am a Zimbabwean. Zimbabwe for Zimbabweans. Zimbabwe never for the British. Britain for the British.
Is that just political rally rhetoric or did you mean that? What did you mean?
That Zimbabwe belongs to the Zimbabwean people.

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