PRESIDENT Barack Obama will invite 47 leaders to a landmark United States-Africa summit in August, but President Robert Mugabe is among those excluded because of their “poor” democratic credentials.
The US president is seeking to improve US trade, development and security ties with an increasingly dynamic continent to which he traces part of his ancestry.
Obama will send out invites to all African nations that are currently in good standing with the US or are not suspended from the African Union — meaning there will be no place for states like Egypt or Zimbabwe.
He will hold the talks on August 6 seeking to cement progress from his trip to Africa last year.
A White House statement said the trip would “advance the administration’s focus on trade and investment in Africa and highlight the US’s commitment to Africa’s security, its democratic development and its people”.
The idea for the summit, which takes place with Washington increasingly aware of China’s attempt to enhance its diplomatic profile in Africa, was first announced by Obama in a speech in Cape Town in June.
Egypt, which has caused the Obama administration to thread a foreign policy needle with an erstwhile ally after a military takeover, is not eligible to attend as it is currently suspended from the African Union.
The United States maintains sanctions against Mugabe and key officials over suppression of democracy and what Washington sees as politically-motivated violence.
Other notable exclusions on the invite list include Sudan and Madagascar. One notable inclusion is Kenya, where President Uhuru Kenyatta is currently awaiting a delayed trial at the International Criminal Court on charges related to violence after an election in 2007 that left 1 000 people dead.
The indictment has been one of the reasons why Obama is yet to visit the homeland of his late father as president.
Meanwhile, Mugabe’s spokesperson George Charamba yesterday said he was not surprised by the snub.
“If the summit is about US and Africa then maybe the US president would need to be reminded that Zimbabwe and Egypt are in Africa and of Africa,” he said.
“His decision not to invite those countries can only get people to realise that it’s not about US and Africa, it’s about US and certain African countries.
“You want to know that the African Growth and Opportunity Act came and went without Zimbabwe and Zimbabwe remains. The world is larger than America. So we are not bothered.
“In any case it would have been very cynical of an American President presiding over runners of sanctions against Zimbabwe to invite its president for dinner.”