The issue of Robert Mugabe divides the public outside the summit just as it does the leaders inside. For his critics the very fact that he has been invited shows blatant disregard for those suffering from his domestic policies. One activist said: “Zimbabweans are dying, we have 82 percent unemployment. There is no cash, you cannot even get cash, even if you do get cash, where are you going to by the food? Where is the food? And yet here he is in Lisbon, dancing and enjoying with the rest of the world. Shame on them.”
The Zimbabwe Mugabe inherited was controlled by an elite of white land-owners and his policy of forced land redistribution has won him some fans. “President Mugabe is a liberator, not only of his own people, but a liberator of Africa,” stressed one protestor.
There were also both supporters and critics of Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi. Such polarised opinions meant tensions ran high, leading to a number of arrests.