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Mugabe the Climate Change Oracle

It is a shame that the most eloquent preacher on the effect of climate change on developing and impoverished nations happens to be a serial human rights offender at the helm of one of the most brutal African regimes in recent history. “When these capitalist gods of carbon burp and belch their dangerous emissions, it’s we, the lesser mortals of the developing sphere who gasp and sink and eventually die,” announced President Robert Mugabe’s Copenhagen address, “Where are (the) sanctions for eco-offenders? When a country spits on the Kyoto Protocol by seeking to shrink from its diktats, or by simply refusing to accede to it, is it not violating the global rule of law”?

That Mugabe more than ably articulates the sentiment held by many developing nations does not lessen the inappropriateness of the human rights offender being permitted a seat at the climate change table. Despite appearing to be a rare example of rational and considered policy, the Mugabe dictatorship’s positioning on climate change has always supported the political agenda of their draconian regime, underpinning the government’s staunch denial of appalling human rights violations against the Zimbabwean people.

Mugabe’s presence at Copenhagen is unacceptable. It has permitted an enemy of mankind to not only take the moral high ground in a forum of the world’s most influential leaders, but to utilise the platform in a transparent attempt to garner sympathy for his current plight as the current target of human rights sanctions by the west. “Why is the guilty north not showing the same fundamentalist spirit it exhibits in our developing countries on human rights matters on this more menacing threat of climate change?” the African leader lamented.

Since as early as 2000, Mugabe has continued to raise the issue of climate change and it’s serious impact on rain-fed agriculture in Africa in response to criticism of the fatal food shortages cause by his government’s land re-distribution program, which led to the country’s descent into lawlessness. In many of Mugabe’s past accounts, the inferred nexus between climate change, Zimbabwean food shortages and country’s continuing social unrest is exaggerated at best. Despite his persuasive address, President Mugabe’s presence at Copenhagen can best be described as a farce.

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Maxine Beneba Clarke is an Australian author and slam poet of Afro- Caribbean descent. Her short fiction collection Foreign Soil won the 2015 ABIA Award for Best Literary Fiction and the 2015 Indie Award for Best Debut Fiction, and was shortlisted for the Stella Prize. Her memoir, The Hate Race, her poetry collection Carrying the World, and her first children’s book, The Patchwork Bike, will be published by Hachette in late 2016.

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