Mugabe calls for UN reforms as Zuma blames world leaders for ‘man-made’ refugee crisis

ZIM’s President Robert Mugabe urged nations to invest in economic development on the African continent on Monday (September 28), saying a stronger Africa would be beneficial to the world.

“Africa is not looking for handouts. Rather it is looking for partners in massive infrastructure development. In creating and exploiting the value chains from the God given natural resources and in improving the quality of life of the continents citizens. The entire world stands to benefit from an economically empowered African continent than from one emasculated by deprivation and with an over dependence on others,” Mugabe said.

Mugabe also called for U.N. reform and has long criticized that there there is no African country with a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council.

“While the world has drastically changed since 1945, the United Nations and indeed the global governance architecture remains mired in a long bygone era. This archaic hierarchy among nations threatens to erode the confidence and support that the United Nations commands among the majority, but disadvantaged of its membership. We are disappointed that we have lost the opportunity of this anniversary to address this burning issue of the reform of the United Nations Security Council in a manner that satisfies the just demands and expectations among us. I wish to reiterate our strong attachment to Africa’s common position of the reform of the Security Council.”

He also called for more transparency in choosing the next UN Secretary General.

Mugabe has been in power since independence from Britain in 1980. He has long been blamed by critics for plunging his country, once the bread basket of Africa, into poverty through mismanagement and corruption.

Mugabe said that upholding human rights is the obligation of all member states, but vehemently rejected the imposition of what he called “new rights” for gay marriage that have been advocated elsewhere in the world.

“We equally reject attempts to prescribe new rights that are contrary to our norms, values, traditions and beliefs. We are not gays. Cooperation and respect for each other will advance the cause of human rights worldwide. Confrontation, vilification and double standards will not,” he told members of the General Assembly.

Mugabe has called homosexuals “worse than pigs and dogs.” A spokesman for his ruling party, has said same-sex marriage had no place in Africa. – Reuters

Meanwhile, ANA reports that  President Jacob Zuma has rebuked world leaders at the annual gathering of the United Nations over the current refugee crisis in Europe, saying it was “man-made” because world powers did not listen to Africa when it dealt with its problems.

Zuma apologized for his voice, which was still hoarse with a cold, when he spoke at at the global body’s 70th debate in its General Assembly on Monday night.

He told the leaders, to their applause: “The current situation in Libya and the Sahel region is a direct consequence of some members of the UN Security Council not heeding informed counsel from the African Union.”

He was applauded again when he said the Security Council abused its responsibility to protect people from war crimes “for narrow political interests that had nothing to do with the fundamental aspects of the prevention of mass atrocities.

“The current refugee crisis in Europe is sadly the direct result of the militarisation of civilian unrest which included the massive arming of civilians and opposition groupings in Libya and Syria and other affected countries.”

He said South Africa welcomed the meetings that will take place on the margins of the UN General Assembly to review progress made in countering terrorism in the Middle East and North Africa.

Zuma cautioned, however, that the Security Council should heed Africa’s views in future when dealing with conflicts in those regions.

He said it was “critical that the discussions of violent extremism and terrorism in parts of Africa and the Middle East, look into the root causes of the problem and not just the symptoms.

“Also requiring serious reflection is the regime change doctrine and its role in perpetuating conflicts and instability,” he said, referring to allegations that some countries in the West fuelled protests against governments that they wanted to see overthrown.

In this, he echoed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s sentiments earlier in Monday’s debate.

Nato continued with military action in Libya after a vote by the UNSC, despite the AU having put forward a roadmap for peace for that country.

South Africa as a non-permanent member of the Security Council also voted in favour of military action but supported the AU’s calls on the alliance to halt air strikes and seek a negotiated settlement to end the conflict.

Zuma also used the UN General Assembly platform to make the most detailed call for UN reform of all the speakers so far.

He said almost no progress had been made since a commitment was given by world leaders to reform the UN Security Council 10 years ago.

“It is unacceptable and unjustifiable that more than one billion people in the African continent are still excluded as permanent members of the key decision making structure of the United Nations, the UN Security Council.

“A continent with a smaller population than Africa is represented by three countries on the UN Security Council as permanent members. The UN cannot pretend that the world has not changed since 1945. We are no longer colonies. We are free, independent sovereign states,” he said, to more applause from delegates.

He said some strides had been made towards reform, but “we will continue working with progressive states towards the expansion of representation”.

He said the election process of the UN Secretary-General also needed to be democratised. Currently the Secretary-General is appointed by the General Assembly on the recommendation of the Security Council, but Zuma said the assembly should play a bigger role in this.

Various other heads of state urged UN Security Council reform during yesterday’s debate, including Russia’s Vladimir Putin, Brazil’s Dilma Roussef, Mozambique’s Filipe Nyusi and Ethiopia’s Hailemariam Dessalegn. Speaking after Zuma, Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe added his voice to the call.

Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel over the weekend also came out in support of reforms.

Zuma on Sunday said South Africa would call for an expansion of the UNSC with four permanent seats going to Africa.

Realistically, however, Africa is hoping for two seats, and South Africa is hoping to fill one of those.