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Zimbabwe: Mugabe’s undiplomatic speech angers officials
A damaging diplomatic row was brewing in Harare Monday with western diplomats indicating that they would leave Zimbabwe after President Mugabe told them to ‘go to hell’.
Mugabe, on Sunday told mourners during his sister’s burial that Westerners can to "go to hell" and stop trying to make decisions for Zimbabwe as if Zimbabweans are an inferior people.
"The inclusive delegation paid a visit to Europe and came back empty-handed. We are still treated as if we do not own the country. They say remove Mugabe first and then we relate with you. We cannot behave as if Europe and America own Zimbabwe.
"To hell, hell, hell, hell, with them," he thundered to applause and ululation from the large crowd.
This did not go down well with Western diplomats from the United States, ambassador Charles Ray, German, Albrecht Conze, Greece and EU Chargés d’affairs Stephanos Loannides and Barbara Plinkert.
Said one diplomat “The president (Mugabe) told us to go to hell, we tried to find our way there but couldnt. We waited for him to finish his speech and we left.
“This was a Christian funeral and those of us who came to pay our last respects were told to go to hell. I found this theological contradiction baffling."
She said they would consider what sort "of action to take on Mugabe” adding that a possibility of leaving the country cannot be ruled out.
Political commentators say Mugabe’s utterances would only help to harden the West’s stance on Zimbabwe.
“That was very un-diplomatic of Mugabe. Relations between some western capitals and Harare were normalizing to the benefit of ordinary Zimbabweans. But Mugabe could have hardened the West stance", said Arnold Muramwa.
After forging an inclusive government with Morgan Tsvangirai the country’s economy has somehow stabilized, leading to Zimbabwe registering its first growth in a decade last year.
However, economic analysts say the country is struggling to attract foreign aid and investment because of Mugabe’s policies.
Mugabe challenged Zimbabweans to jealously safeguard their country and its natural resources, which he said, should benefit all citizens.
"We have this one country that must remain ours beyond our generation, ours forever. We have this one independence that must remain in our hands so we can pass it on to the caring hands of those to come — our children and grandchildren.
"We have natural resources which the good Lord gave us so we can survive, live and thrive on them, we of this land, before we pass them on to those to come after us," President Mugabe said.
He added: "We are caretakers of this country, this one independence, these abundant resources, for generations to come. Shall we be good stewards who jealously guard this great and only such gift from God?
"Or shall we be the bad stewards who sleep on guard, allowing colonial thieves to break in and steal our national estate thus robbing generations to come.
"We carry this heavy burden which we must bear and deliver with dignity so those who come after us do not curse and spit on our graves”.