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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 December, 2003, 21:45 GMT
Mugabe slams 'global inequality'

By Mark Doyle
BBC correspondent in Geneva

Mugabe speaking at the World Summit on the Information Society in Switzerland
Mugabe said technology was being used to dominate the world
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has attacked global inequality and what he described as the imperious attitudes of the United States and Britain.

He was speaking at a United Nations conference on internet technology in the Swiss city of Geneva.

Although he is subject to an EU travel ban, exceptions are made for UN events.

Mr Mugabe used the meeting to respond to criticisms of him led by Britain at the Commonwealth summit, when Zimbabwe withdrew from the organisation.

His speech stood out from the mostly bland interventions of other world leaders at this internet summit.

They generalised about the great potential of internet technology and the need to spread these advantages to the developing world.

Vintage Mugabe

Mr Mugabe, by contrast, said there could be no just information society without more social equality.

He said there was no point in providing poor people with computers unless they were also given electricity and a phone network to run them.

He then attacked the general world order, saying digital technology was being used by some to dominate the globe.

"The deadly televised spectacle of an unjust war of occupation in Iraq based on blatant lies was a dramatic example of a false and failed global information society founded on the twin aggressive impulses of shock and awe," he said.

This was vintage Robert Mugabe - taking the subject of the day, an internet conference in Geneva, and applying it to his fight against what he sees as latter day imperialism.

Opposition leaders in Zimbabwe may condemn Mr Mugabe for acting oppressively at home; but here in Geneva, many delegates - whether they agreed with him or not - were impressed by a lively speech.

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