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PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe, a much-criticised frequent flier, has revealed that some African leaders have snubbed his invites to visit Harare.
And, as with everything else that goes wrong in Zimbabwe, Mugabe blamed western countries for the rebuffs.
Mugabe made the revelation while seeing off Malian president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, who made a three-day stopover in Harare after attending the African Union summit in South Africa.
Speaking at Harare international airport, the veteran leader said leaders invited to officially open the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair in Bulawayo as well as the agricultural show held in Harare had pulled out at the last minute.
He did not name them.
“We have invited, I think two, and they have said yes they will come to open our Trade Fair, Agricultural Show and only a week or so before the Show, they have said, No we have some other business,” said Mugabe.
He claimed the leaders were scared to offend Western capitals by travelling to Harare.
“We knew it was pressure from outside,” he ventured.
“Many of our friends in Africa have been frightened by the fact that Europe and America have wanted them to distance themselves from Zimbabwe, but our friends have refused to do so.”
Western countries imposed devastating sanctions against Harare, accusing the Mugabe regime of electoral fraud and gross human rights abuses.
Mugabe claims he was being punished for taking prime agricultural land from some 3,000 odd whites.
He argues the farmland was redistributed to hundreds of thousands of poor blacks, in the process correcting a historical injustice that was one of the major grievances of the war for independence.
The European Union has since lifted most of its sanctions but the Obama Administration in Washington will not relent, insisting Mugabe remains a threat to US foreign policy.
Mugabe said most of African leaders had stood by him although a few were cowed by the western powers.
“That (support) is why we are still going and going strong. It is that resistance they have shown,” said the Zanu-PF leader.
He is also chairman of the African Union and the regional SADC organisation, positions supporters see as endorsement by fellow African leaders of his defiance against the West.