Mugabe turns up in Geneva with "hundreds" of body guards

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – The Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe made an unheralded appearance at ITU Telecom World here in Geneva, Switzerland.

He addressed the Council of Ministers and then toured the show floor with a large entourage made all the more conspicuous by the number of security personnel in eccentric orbit around him.

Visitors and exhibitors alike were astonished to see Mugabe perambulating around the show floor literally hand-in-hand with the Deputy Secretary General of the International Telecommunication Union, Mr. Houlin Zhao. An unusual sight to be sure.

International sanctions prevent Mugabe from travelling within Europe but United Nations events are exempt from the ban – and the ITU is an agency of the UN. Hence his visit.

The oxygen of publicity and all that.

In his address to the Council of Ministers, Mugabe, yet again, could not resist stirring things up and taking a sideswipe at the mysterious cabal of "certain western countries" that, he alleges, is working to depose him and re-impose imperialism and colonisation on Zimbabwe.

In his closing remarks Mugabe said he was "registering Zimbabwe’s dismay at the continued violation of her airwaves by certain western countries whose radio broadcasting systems have targeted my country to further these countries’ obnoxious regime change agendas."

He added, "The political and economic challenge to our sovereignty that sometimes has had its ICT co-relative in the process – resulting in the flagrant violations of certain protocols which we are all party to under the ITU. We reject the philosophy that seeks to weaponise ICT by turning them into platforms of aggression." He did not cite the protocols referred to.

On hearing his remarks, most of the audience looked as baffled as the media. (TelecomTV was there webcasting the event).

Quite what Mugabe was getting at is unclear. Is he suggesting that "certain western countries" are blocking radio signals and disrupting telecoms traffic? Is he suggesting that anti-government propaganda is being beamed in to Zimbabwe to foment violent revolution? Does he believe shadowy agencies are bombarding the country with wireless death rays?

And what on earth is weaponised ICT? Exploding handsets? Well that does happen from time to time – but not just in Zimbabwe. Or perhaps he was referring to sub-machine guns cunningly disguised as laptops? Who knows? Mr. Mugabe didn’t elaborate.

You can see Mugabe’s speech by going to www.itutelecomtv.com, accessing the Forum Archive and scrolling down to "Council of Ministers". He appears about 40 minutes from the end of the session. Enjoy!