Malaysia should speak loud and clear at the Abuja CHOGM to call for Mugabe’s removal as Zimbabwe President and the return of Zimbabwe to democratic rule
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Friday): Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe’s pledge on Tuesday in his annual state-of-the-nation speech in the Zimbabwean Parliament to weed out corruption as part of government efforts to lift the country’s battered economy out of its fifth year of recession must rate as the “Presidential Joke of the Year” – when under Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s ranking on the annual Transparency International’s (TI) Corruption Perception Index (CPI) had plunged from 48th ranking in 1999 to 112nd position in 2003, with its CPI score plummeting from 4.1 to 2.3 during this five-year period ( with a CPI score of 10 as “highly clean” and 0 “highly corrupt”).
Before there could be any talk about eradication of corruption, Zimbabwe must first return to the 1999 rank of 48th position in the TI CPI after plunging to the grouping of the two dozen most corrupt nations in the world.
The rampant corruption is just one index of how Mugabe had brought Zimbabwe from its former position as southern Africa’s breadbasket to one of the most disastrous failed African states which must now rely on aid to feed millions, with hyperinflation above 500 per cent, 80 per cent unemployment, gross domestic product estimated to have shrunk nearly 20% in the past year, with some 70,000 people, according to Amnesty International, killed or tortured by Mugabe last year.
Malaysia, as Chair of both the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC), has a special responsibility in the Abuja CHOGM in Nigeria starting today to ensure that CHOGM is kept focused on the two top agendas of democracy and development, and help avert the Commonwealth from the crisis of being split along racial lines because of the continued suspension of Zimbabwe and the barring of Mugabe from CHOGM.
Malaysia should in fact speak loud and clear at the Abuja CHOGM to call for Mugabe’s removal as Zimbabwe President and the return of Zimbabwe to democratic rule.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman