I also welcome the Minister and congratulate him on his appointment. Like Senator Alex White I congratulate him on the strong terms in which he referred to this situation. It is necessary. He mentioned Nelson Mandela's words, the "tragic failure of leadership" in Zimbabwe. It risks becoming a tragic failure of leadership on the African continent. Senator Alex White ended his speech questioning how the African Union deals with this issue. The credibility of the world is somewhat at stake if we stand by and allow this to happen. People have alluded to instances, which we can read about in the newspapers, of what that man is doing to his people. Earlier Senator Boyle asked why he would want to preside over the utter destruction of his nation.
I found it really tragic when I watched him hold up the Bible during his inauguration ceremony and promise the people of Zimbabwe that he would always act in good faith and in their better interests. How dare that man say that? How dare the courts, which Senator Alex White mentioned, determine that this was a legitimate thing to do? The Minister spoke of how Mugabe, during the course of the election campaign, said he would declare war on the country if he did not like the result. How could that possibly be determined to have been a free and fair election? That is why the credibility of the rest of the world is at stake, particularly as the African leaders gather in Egypt. They need to have a good look at themselves and ask if this is the type of democracy they want, because the world is watching their response. I accept that, for historic reasons, the western world may not have the same legitimacy as Mugabe's peers, the African leaders. They have the most to gain by utter condemnation of how the elections have been conduced in Zimbabwe. I am glad to see that South Africa and Senegal have been quite firm on it. I agree with others who might have thought that South Africa was the shining star in the development of democracy in Africa.
One of the proudest things that Irish people have is the work we have done through development aid and we can hold our heads high in that regard. However, much of the Irish taxpayers' money we invest is focused on developing democracy and strengthening those democracies. We have a right to expect basic human rights are being observed.
I agree with Senator Alex White's comments on the African Union. That three African observer missions have condemned the election is far more important than what any of the rest of us in Europe or the western world would say. Africa itself realises it wants a higher standard. It is time for the African Union, although a young institution, to strengthen itself in terms of helping democracies for the people and citizens of Africa rather than, as Senator White noted, the governments, because all governments in Africa are not necessarily benign.
If the African Union does not stand up for democratic principles, there is a danger the citizens in these countries will resort to tribal violence and the like because they are not getting a good example and democracy will have been proven not to work. A key point to lament is that political stability has not really taken root in Africa, try as we might through institutions like the African Union. This is an opportunity. We are at a critical point in terms of what democracy in Africa means.
This brings me back to the UN and the credibility of the rest of the world. If we do nothing, what credibility has the UN? The UN must protect the Zimbabwean people because by doing so it will protect African people and others who are subject to dictatorship. I agree with the idea of seeking an arms embargo, which is the only way forward. Other sanctions will only affect the very vulnerable. It is extraordinary and speaks volumes that a country like Zimbabwe which is falling apart has no problem getting weapons.
I am surprised no other speaker has asked whether Robert Mugabe is guilty of genocide. He is effectively wiping out his population — that is the truth of it. Will we stand by? While I do not just mean Ireland, as we are a small nation, the UN needs to ensure it does something and shows itself to be a strong body that supports and stands by the basic, fundamental rights of citizens, especially those in Zimbabwe.