President Robert Mugabe yesterday came under fire for his decision to boycott the EU-Africa summit this week after his wife Grace was denied a visa to Belgium.
Mugabe’s spokesperson George Charamba last week said the 90-year-old leader would not attend the summit if no invitation was extended to his wife Grace.
Foreign Affairs permanent secretary Joey Bimha was yesterday quoted saying Zimbabwe would not be represented at the summit starting on Wednesday after the EU refused to budge on the visa.
MDC Matabeleland South chairperson Pilate Ndebele said it was strange that Mugabe was skipping such an important meeting because his wife had been denied a visa.
“If you are a president, you are chosen by people to represent them and not your family or wife,” he said.
“It is 100% wrong for the president not to attend the meeting just because his wife is not invited. He took an oath to represent the people of Zimbabwe not his wife or family alone and boycotting the meeting because he will not be with his wife is a betrayal of the people who entrusted him with leadership.”
Ndebele said it meant if the First Lady renounced her citizenship and moved abroad, Mugabe would abandon the people and this showed that he could not be trusted.
“If he is so much in love with his wife that he can abandon national duty because of her, then we cannot trust him,” he said.
“We have a problem in Zimbabwe. How can a president boycott national duty because of his wife?”
Losing candidate in the Bubi National Assembly constituency, Geneva Sibanda, said Mugabe was elected to represent Zimbabwe and he must have that in mind.
“We as a country should not be disadvantaged and held to ransom because Mugabe wants to go with his wife,” he said.
“People voted for Mugabe as president, not his wife. Mugabe must be reminded that he is not going on holiday, but on national duty to represent the nation.”
MDC-T Bulilima East youth chairperson Trymore Mpofu said Mugabe’s boycott showed that he does not care about the people of Zimbabwe and views his wife as more important than those who elected him as president.
“People should now see that Mugabe and Zanu PF don’t have their interests at heart,” he said.
“Mugabe and his people must come out in the open and tell the nation that they have failed to govern the country.”
However, deposed MDC-T Matabeleland North provincial chairperson Sengezo Tshabangu sympathised with Mugabe saying he was right in boycotting the gathering.
“It is tricky in that it is an infringement on his value systems that see the family as being supreme,” he said.
“Mugabe is a Christian and Christianity values and promotes the wholesomeness of the family. So it is not about the wife, but family and values. Remember even in the United States, the belief is that you cannot rule the country with a disjoined family.
“Again people should not look at the person, but the position he is holding.
“I think he is absolutely right to demand the recognition of the values he stands for.”
Mugabe and his wife are still under the EU travel ban, but Brussels had waived the restrictions on the long-time ruler so he could attend the summit.