It’s not often that Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe could be considered a voice of reason‚ but as world leaders took to the podium at the annual United Nations General Assembly in New York‚ one thing was clear – in the age of Trump‚ anything is possible.
For the most part‚ UNGA72 was the Donald Trump show from the time he rolled up in his presidential Cadillac on Tuesday until the time he took to the iconic green marble podium.
The same podium‚ he coincidentally mocked in a 2012 tweet‚ calling it cheap-looking and vowing to replace it with expensive marble. Luckily for him though‚ the General Assembly also has a golden wall‚ so he and his poor taste probably felt right at home.
And while diplomats excitedly whipped out their cellphones to take pictures of him‚ they were decidedly less excited about the content of his speech which had all the focus of an over-stimulated child on a sugar high.
It mentioned the United States and America over 50 times‚ and the United Nations‚ just 15. It was a list of the world’s baddies: North Korea‚ Iran‚ Venezuela and Cuba which he spent considerable time calling names like “losers” and in the case of Kim Jong-Un‚ “rocket man”.
There was an audible intake of breath when he threatened to “totally destroy” the country if forced to defend itself.
By Wednesday‚ when South African president Jacob Zuma took to the podium‚ the number of diplomats attending the afternoon session had thinned somewhat. The South African delegation‚ consisting of International Relations Minister Maite Nokana-Mashabane‚ State security Minister David Mahlobo and Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula did their part to applaud him loudly.
Zuma‚ who probably relished the opportunity to make it through an entire speech without a point of order or a boo‚ meanwhile took a welcome break from his usual script of calling for security council reform.
He still did that‚ but he also raised issues of safety and security on the continent‚ and even the EFF’s pet project of illicit financial outflows.
And where Trump stopped just short of calling for war‚ Zuma appealed for calm‚ using South Africa’s moral high-ground on the nuclear weapons issue (South Africa gave them up) to declare “there are no safe hands for weapons of mass destruction”.
The 93-year-old Mugabe may have shuffled weakly to the podium‚ but his speech was filled with sharp‚ verbal gymnastics.
In a quietly vicious attack on Trump‚ he said “some of us were embarrassed‚ if not frightened by the return of the biblical giant called Goliath.”
He went on to challenge Trump to “blow your Trumpet in a musical way towards the values of unity‚ peace‚ togetherness and dialogue” in defiance of “the promise of our damnation”.
“A damnation which we must resist‚ no matter from whence it comes. We defeated imperialism. Bring us a monster by another name and he will suffer the same‚” he said. – Timeslive