Robert Mugabe arrives at Copenhagen climate talks

COPENHAGEN – Robert Mugabe arrived Tuesday in Copenhagen with his large entourage to take part in the final days of the UN climate talks to be attended by some 120 world leaders, Danish television footage showed.

The European Union has banned Mugabe from travelling to its member states, including Denmark, as part of sanctions designed to pressure him to implement political reforms and improve the country’s poor human rights record.

But under United Nations rules, Mugabe holds diplomatic immunity and is therefore able to take part in the UN-hosted talks.

Human rights organisations in Denmark denounced Mugabe’s presence at the meeting.

Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen said he would have no trouble welcoming the Zimbabwean leader to Copenhagen.

"I see no problem in greeting him," Rasmussen told reporters, but added: "Nobody can be in doubt about my attitude toward Zimbabwe and Mugabe."

Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party was forced into a unity government with the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) led by now Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, after it lost its parliamentary majority in 2008 polls, and the presidential race ended in dispute.

Globetrotting Robert Mugabe is said to have ‘commandeered’ an Air Zimbabwe plane on Monday evening to fly him to the United Nations climate summit, which is underway in Denmark.

It is reported that he went with a 59 member delegation, on top of an advance team that is already at the summit in Copenhagen .

The Zimbabwe government has come under attack for sending such a large delegation of officials, at a time when the bankrupt government should be streamlining.Last week Finance Minister Tendai Biti revealed in parliament that Zimbabwe had gobbled up more than US$28 million in 2009, in foreign trips.

On Monday James Maridadi, the Prime Minister’s spokesperson, said Tsvangirai would not be going to the summit, to cut down on spending and that the decision was also made in the spirit of promoting a single delegation from Zimbabwe.

Government officials from all parties have been travelling to‘re-engage’ the west after years of isolation, but critics say it is extremely wasteful to send so many people to this particular summit.

Mugabe has come under fire for attending a global climate summit, when he is responsible for destroying the environment in his own country. Zimbabwe suffers from severe environmental degradation, with whole forests disappearing due to the lack of power.

Wildlife poaching is also completely out of control and it’s well known that the poaching, particularly of the black rhino, is orchestrated at the very highest levels in cabinet.

Analysts say that allowing Mugabe to speak and have a platform at a summit that is focused on environmental issues, is nothing more than absurd.

Political commentator Professor Stanford Mukasa said the idea of climate change and other international protocols have no relevance to Mugabe – and this is his only chance to go shopping in Europe because he is under an international travel ban. Mukasa said Mugabe has never been environmentally conscious back home and that the destruction of the environment in Zimbabwe has contributed to the worsening of the climate conditions in the country. “Mugabe has nothing to offer to the climate control conference because he is one of the guilty parties by his deliberate policies at home,” said the political commentator