Tuesday, March 20, 2007

It is time for South African leadership in dealing with Zimbabwe

Opposition to the rule of Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe is stepping up but so is the violence of the government against dissidents. However, there are reports the some security forces are becoming reluctant to carry out attacks against opponents. The time may be ripe for international pressure and South Africa is ideally suited for the leadership role in dealing the problems created for south-central Africa by the Mugabe tyranny.

It is time that South Africa’s President Thabo Mbeki to use his influence to persuade Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe it is time to step down and, failing that, rally other African countries to pressure the Mugabe regime in favor of the democratic opposition.. Zimbabwe’s archbishop, Pius Ncube, has been critical of South Africa for failing to act. According to him, "They [South Africa's leaders] are in the best position to put pressure on Zimbabwe, to call for sanctions if necessary."

This from the editorial page of the New York Times:
Zimbabwe’s president, Robert Mugabe, has spent much of his 26-plus years in power suppressing all opposition, persecuting defenseless minorities and destroying a once-promising economy. He has shamelessly tried to deflect all blame for the disastrous consequences — including a man-made famine and a catastrophically mishandled H.I.V./AIDS epidemic — onto international scapegoats, chiefly Britain and the United States.

Now, the 83-year-old Mr. Mugabe seems to have descended into total power-madness. He has barred opponents from leaving the country, ordered his thugs to literally crack the skulls of opposition leaders, accused his own party’s youth group of plotting against him, and told Western critics to “go hang.” Last week, he threatened to run again in 2008 for another six-year term.

With hyperinflation making its currency almost worthless, Zimbabwe is running short of basic commodities like milk, cooking oil and gasoline. Fewer than one in four Zimbabweans have jobs, and life expectancy, nearly 60 in 1990, has plunged into the 30s.

Will no one rescue Zimbabwe? The United States and Europe have limited influence, and risk playing into Mr. Mugabe’s racist rhetoric when they try to use it. But President Thabo Mbeki of neighboring South Africa — the region’s most prestigious political leader — has enormous leverage, and he should be using it. South Africa is Zimbabwe’s main trade partner, a big investor and the source of more than 40 percent of its electricity.
Unfortunately Mr. Mbeki has done nothing, apparently out of a misplaced sense of liberation-struggle solidarity. Zimbabwe is struggling to liberate itself from Mr. Mugabe’s deadly misrule. Its people desperately need all Zimbabweans, and the influential Mr. Mbeki, to show real-life solidarity with them — and not with their rampaging dictator.

1 comment:

No PC said...

There is Zimbabwe exiles blog calling for the British to invade it and restore democracy. http://radicalzim.blogspot.com/2007/03/britain-should-invade-zimbabwe_12.html

A somewhat radical view point but a sign of how desperate things have got in Zimbabwe.

I am of the "All Africa's a Basket case" school of thought and having visited South Africa last year, I am not convinced they are out of the woods yet either.

Populist leaders such as Zuma are perceived as corrupt and likely to promise "Land for votes" in the next elections. The killings fields of the South African farms, and first court seizure are signs that lessons have not been learnt yet.

As for Zim, well It will be a very long time, if ever, before Zimbabwe fully recovers from the damage. All the farm infrastructure has been destroyed, the farmers dispersed, and capital goods (tractors etc) gone, and livestock diseased or eaten. Even just repairing the broken fences will cost millions.

Where is the money going to come from, Switzerland? I don't think so.

The country has effectively been destroyed, and will never regain the chances lost, because even if Mugabe’s regime collapses, all the "squatters", "veterans", and "activists" etc will still be there, and no one will be able to control them. It would need a military government just to protect people, let alone enforce the courts orders.

I guess I am being ultra pessimistic, but I suspect that when Mugabe’s party lose power, they will revert back to guerrilla violence to get it back