Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The destruction of Zimbabwe under Mugabe’s tyranny

The brutal tyranny of President Robert Mugabe has practically destroyed Zimbabwe as reported here before. Consider these statistics from that central African country: eighty percent unemployment; an inflation rate of 1050%; an estimated 29% of sexually active persons are positive for HIV; and a life expectancy that was 62 in 1990 has plummeted to 37 for men and 34 for women in 2004. This disaster is entirely man-made, specifically the results of the Mugabe regime. He has destroyed the economy and made it extremely dangerous for any opposition to his rule. It is a human disaster on scale with or surpassing Iraq and Dafur yet receives very little attention.

This is from RW Johnson in the London Times:
Suffer the little children is a phrase never far from your mind in today’s Zimbabwe. The horde of painfully thin street children milling around you at traffic lights is almost the least of it: in a population now down to 11m or less there are an estimated 1.3m orphans.

Go to one of the overflowing cemeteries in Bulawayo or Beit Bridge and you are struck by the long lines of tiny graves for babies and toddlers.

A game ranger friend tells me that hyena attacks on humans, previously unheard of, have become increasingly common. “So many babies, not all of them dead, are being dumped in the bush that hyenas have developed a taste for human flesh,” he explains.

Under the weight of the general economic meltdown — the economy has shrunk by 40% since 2000 and is still contracting — the health system has collapsed and a populace now weakened by five consecutive years of near-starvation dies of things which would never have been fatal before. A staggering 42,000 women died in childbirth last year, for example, compared with fewer than 1,000 a decade ago.

A vast human cull is under way in Zimbabwe and the great majority of deaths are a direct result of deliberate government policies. Ignored by the United Nations, it is a genocide perhaps 10 times greater than Darfur’s and more than twice as large as Rwanda’s.

Genocide is not a word one should use hastily but the situation is exactly as described in the UN Convention on Genocide, which defines it as “deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part”.

Reckoning the death toll is difficult. Had demographic growth continued normally, Zimbabwe’s population would have passed 15m by 2000 and 18m by the end of 2006. But people have fled the country in enormous numbers, with 3m heading for South Africa and an estimated further 1m scattered around the world. This would suggest a current population of 14m. But even the government, which tries to make light of the issue, says that there are only 12m left in Zimbabwe.

Social scientists say that the government’s figures are clearly rigged and too high. Their own population estimates vary between 8m and 11m. But even if one accepted the government figure, 2m people are “missing”, and the real number is probably 3m or more. And all this is happening in what was, until recently, one of Africa’s most prosperous states and a member of the Commonwealth.
You can read the entire article here.

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