Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has sent shock waves across Africa with his latest call for Africans to give the newly elected U.S. President Donald Trump a chance to prove himself.
In what appears to be a drastic change of tune, President Mugabe, who celebrated his 93rd birthday Tuesday, expressed his support for President Trump who is currently facing serious high disapproval ratings in America and worldwide for his controversial ban on immigrants from Syria and Muslim-majority countries.
“I do not know. Give him [Mr. Trump] time,” the Zimbabwean President said in an interview published by the Herald.
Why the Change of Heart?
It is unusual for President Mugabe, who has often criticized the West for “meddling” in African affairs, to talk positively of an American president.
But in the interview, Mugabe goes ahead to declare his support for President Trump’s election, saying that he did not want the Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, to win the November 2016 election.
“I knew she could slap sanctions on us as a legacy. Indeed Obama [former U.S. President] did that just before he left. We are now under sanctions imposed not by Donald Trump but by Obama. What arrogance is that?” Mugabe complained.
Mugabe also expressed his support for Trump’s American nationalism policy, revealing that he hopes Trump will lift the travel sanctions and assets freeze imposed on him and his allies by the United States in 2001.
The sanctions were imposed following a series of allegations of human rights abuses in Zimbabwe by Mugabe’s administration, and according to Mugabe, the sanctions are largely to blame for the economic turmoil being experienced in Zimbabwe today.
“Mr. Trump may even re-look [at] the sanctions on Zimbabwe,” President Mugabe said.
A Friend of African Dictators?
Mugabe, who has been in power since 1980, is the latest to publicly declare his support for President Trump.
Several other African heads of state, especially those who have been accused of dictatorship and human rights abuses, have openly supported Mr. Trump’s policy of American nationalism.
Last week, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, whose administration has often been accused of clamping down on the opposition and other human rights abuses, issued a statement heaping praises on President Trump and bashing the Democrats for frustrating Trump’s attempt to foster good relations with Russia.
In his first diplomatic call to Africa last week, President Trump chose to call President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria and his South African counterpart President Jacob Zuma who is currently facing numerous corruption scandals.
Many experts have argued that Trump’s election is likely to cement dictatorship and human rights violations in Africa by cutting funding for civil rights organizations in Africa.