Will Mugabe heed Pyongyang's stay-away call to foreign leaders?

It would not be Mugabe’s first odd presence abroad, having been the sole foreign head of state at the swearing-in ceremony of Joseph Kabila as president of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). And he had a shocking surprise for those present.

Amid the disputed DRC vote, Mugabe promised Joseph Kabila that Zimbabwe  (maybe he meant Zanu-pf) will help him (Kabila) fight off any interference by presumably Western outsiders.

In July 2011, Robert Mugabe had another surprise for the whole world by being the only head of state attending a two-day youth conference at the United Nations under the theme: “Youth: Dialogue and Mutual Understanding”. As usual, he was accompanied by a huge delegation.

But, despite Pyongyang’s ban and the prohibitive cost to the struggling Zimbabwean taxpayer, the Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, the First Secretary and President of Zanu-pf Robert Mugabe, may produce another surprise by showing up.

While Mugabe may be keen to pay his respects to Kim Jong Il, the sad memories associated with North Korea in Zimbabwe date back to 1981 when 106 North Koreans arrived in Zimbabwe to train Mugabe’s Fifth Brigade.

After its training, the elite unit drawn from 3500 ex-Zanla troops committed the Gukurahundi massacres in Matabeleland and Midlands during which an estimated 20 000 suspected sympathisers of Pf-Zapu were killed.

This analyst believes that Mugabe as the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces was solely responsible for the Gukurahundi genocide and subsequent state-sponsored bloody electoral violence in the country hence his reported reluctance to handover power during his lifetime fearing retributive justice.

Like paranoid Mugabe who has warned against a Libyan style revolution in Zimbabwe, North Korea has gone a step further by banning its own 200 citizens working in Libya from returning home, apparently out of fear that “they will reveal the extent and final outcomes of the revolutions that have shaken the Arab world,” (Telegraph, 27/10/11). 

Reports say North Korean nationals had been left in a limbo, joining their compatriots who were stuck in Tunisia, Egypt and other countries with orders not to return home.

Zimbabweans await Mugabe’s next surprise after learning that there will be no cabinet meetings for the entire month of January as the geriatric tyrant relaxes lavishly in the Far East courtesy of the released Air Zimbabwe aircraft.