President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe took the occasion of a state dinner for the visiting president of Equatorial Guinea to send another defiant message to the West and promise he will "never retreat" under “neo-colonialist” pressure.
At the dinner Wednesday evening for President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea, Mr. Mugabe charged that Zimbabwe has been targeted by Britain and the United States for its land redistribution program and for defending its political independence. He told the audience of bilateral officials and diplomats that "we stand by our principles and shall never retreat, capitulate or shirk our responsibility."
Mr. Mugabe's comments were reported by Reuters and confirmed by the Voice of America with a spokesman for the Zimbabwean president.
Mr. Mugabe took a swipe at what he described as “born-again democrats in London and Washington (who) would like to hoodwink the world on the situation in Zimbabwe.” He urged developing countries to defend their independence, adding that he and Mr. Obiang would discuss political and commercial cooperation during the visit.
A senior Zimbabwean official said Wednesday that Harare hopes to obtain oil from the West African country to relieve the acute fuel shortage. President Obiang encouraged such hopes when he made a point of thanking Zimbabwe for foiling an alleged coup attempt against his government by mostly South African mercenaries in 2004.
Mr. Obiang told his host that “you can always count on the support of the government and people” of Equatorial Guinea.
Reporter Chinedu Offor of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe spoke with William Nhara, principal director for interactive and public affairs in the office of President Mugabe, about the Zimbabwean president's comments and the state visit in progress.