PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has revealed that he was recently refused entry into Ivory Coast and, apparently considering that the West Africans cannot think for themselves, the Zimbabwean leader blamed France for the snub.
The 91-year-old globe-trotter considers himself an African hero and expects to be welcomed and feted everywhere he travels across the continent.
He is usually obliged, expect on the odd occasion when – in Mugabe’s view – African leaders, afraid to stand up to the domineering West, heed instructions to turn him away.
Mugabe told a meeting of his Zanu PF party’s central committee in Harare Friday that this is precisely what happened when he tried to attend a meeting of the African Development Bank which is based in Ivory Coast.
The veteran leader said he had been invited by the bank in his capacity as chairman of the African Union.
The invite came as he was attending the inauguration of a new leader in nearby Nigeria where he was harassed by reporters over his refusal to retire having been in power for 35 years.
Said Mugabe: “I will tell you what happened to me as chairman of African Union.
“There was a meeting in Côte d’Ivoire of Finance Ministers and (Patrick) Chinamasa was there.
“One of our African development banks was having a meeting there and I was asked to address that meeting at its opening.
“I couldn’t go because I was going for the inauguration of (Muhammadu) Buhari the Nigerian president — to see him take office.
“So the AfDB people said since you were not able to come, (by the way the bank is headquartered in Cote d’Ivoire, but it is an African bank) for the opening, can you come at the closure and just make a statement? I was now in Nigeria. I said fine, I will come on my way back home.
“But of course, we travel by air and the airline must clear itself — the aircraft must be cleared for landing if you want to land in any place. Their own civil air systems there, on consultation with their authorities must say yes.
“Now the request to land in Côte d’Ivoire was denied us. We waited and waited, no. We asked (Minister) Chinamasa what is happening — is Ouattara there? Chinamasa said, yes, a minister had told me that Ouattara had said I could come.”
Ivory Coast president, Alassane Ouattara, told Mugabe he could not host him having been taken ill.
Lies, claimed Mugabe on Friday.
“The President cannot just go to a country without being cleared by another president who owns the country. That is the protocol. So what has happened?
“Then they said Ouattara has fallen sick. He is in bed. He is in bed and so no clearance was given. So we didn’t go to Cote d’Ivoire to deliver the speech to our African Development Bank.
“It is the only country in Africa that has denied us entry. So, why? Because Ouattara was imposed on Ivory Coast by France and France removed the president who was there to be tried under the International Criminal Court.
“That is what you get. So, when I tell the story to other presidents, ah why, because Mugabe is not wanted by France. He is a dangerous man. So we didn’t go, but AfDB is our bank.”
Mugabe has also claimed that another African leader refused an invite to open the annual agricultural show in Harare after coming under pressure from the West.
The Zanu PF leader is a rabid critic of western governments which he believes are out to get him and recolonise Zimbabwe.
Mugabe refuses any responsibility for the country’s economic crisis, blaming instead sanctions imposed by the West to – in his view – force his ouster from power.
The US and the EU say the sanctions were imposed to try and stop gross human rights abuses and electoral fraud by the Harare regime