Monday, December 15, 2003

I read an interesting article in South Africa's Daily Mail and Guardian concerning the Zimbabwe situation* entitled Tutu 'baffled' at Zimbabwe debacle. In it, Nobel Peace Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu didn't think the decision to continue Zimbabwe's exclusion from the Commonwealth was unjustified (a point now academic, due to Zimbabwe's withdrawal from the organization).

He disagrees with his country's president, Thabo Mbeki, who claimed that Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe was treated badly. President Mbeki even reportedly suggested that Mugabe's seizure of white owned farms was "perhaps inevitable" (even though this is perhaps the least direct of his many crimes). The South African leader also suggested the Commonwealth's decision was designed to protect "white, settler, colonial kith and kin" thus deflecting attention from the miserable failure of his so-called 'softly softly' policy for gently persuading Mugabe to become a warm and fuzzy teddy bear. You'd think President Mbeki would be leading the charge to pressure Mugabe since Zimbabwe's collapse has a direct effect on South Africa's economy; further, Mbeki's spirited defense of a thug like Mugabe is at odds with the South African leader's vision of an 'African renaissance.'

Archbishop Tutu, for his part, noted, We have great expectations of the peer-review system of the African Union but it will be a futile exercise if we are not ready to condemn human rights violations unequivocally without fear or favour whatever the struggle credentials of the perpetrator. Human rights are human rights and they are of universal validity or they are nothing. There are no peculiarly African human rights. What has been reported as happening in Zimbabwe is totally unacceptable and reprehensible and we ought to say so regretting that it should have been necessary to condemn erstwhile comrades.

*-For more on the domestic situation in Zimbabwe, see Mugabe to cede favorite scapegoat? Unlikely..


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