Friday, November 28, 2003

Zimbabwe's ruling thug Robert Mugabe has been excluded from the upcoming meeting of the Commonwealth (basically former British colonies). This has caused a serious split in the rather anachronistic organization. To put it bluntly, western countries want Mugabe punished for his terrible human rights' violations, repression of the opposition and elimination of the rule of law. African countries object.

Some African leaders feel that punishing Mugabe would be neo-colonialism because of his policy of seizing white-owned farms and re-distributing them (to his cronies, of course). Apparently, these heads of state don't care that the overwhelming majority of the victims of his regime's repression are black. Since Mugabe's cabal arrests people for sending emails, attacks protest marches, assaults what little remains of a free press, runs 're-education' camps and uses food aid to punish political opponents, the land "reform" program is the least of the regime's evils.

Other African leaders feel that a diplomatic solution is preferable. Thabo Mbeki, president of regional power South Africa, is the foremost proponent of the "softly softly" approach. They feel that provoking a thug (or "freedom fighter" as some call him, in reference to the distant past) would be counter-productive and would cause a backlash... which only proves how this maniac needs to be stopped. While perhaps a noble attempt from a well-intentioned leader, "softly softly" has miserably failed to moderate Mugabe's brutality or even cause the slightest injection of oxygen into the political process that has been so deftly suffocated by the regime.

Now, Mugabe has said Zimbabwe will leave the Commonwealth if he is not treated as an equal. Since Mugabe has blamed Tony Blair for all of the country's problems, one is skeptical of Mugabe's bluff. Withdrawal might deprive him of his principal scapegoat.

Zimbabweans already hate Mugabe. Whatever brownie points he accumulated in the 1970s independence struggle, he's surely lost (and then some) but the way he's destroyed the country's economy and political system. Evoking 1979 doesn't do much for people who have no food, fuel (petrol) or medicine. One can only hope the military and police's loyalty to Mugabe falters in some way. Only then is there a possibility of success for a Serbia or Ivory Coast-style popular uprising.


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