Zim to nationalize all land -- RIP Marcousis. RIP Cote d'Ivoire?
A few months ago, Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe wondered why his countrymen were choosing to live elsewhere."Some of our people are running away to wash the bodies of elderly people in England," referring to the large numbers of Zimbabweans there who work as carers for the elderly. the strongman added: "Yet we are giving farms to people here. What are you running away for? Zimbabwe's problems can only be solved by Zimbabweans, not by foreigners." Why indeed? Not content merely to seize some land, Mugabe's plans to end private ownership of land, says Land Reform [sic] Minister John Nkomo. According to the BBC, all title deeds will be replaced by 99-year leases. White farmers were made the national bete noire once Mugabe's iron grip on power came under serious threat a few years ago. But the BBC states that only [a]bout 500 white farmers remain on their land in Zimbabwe and those white farmers own just 3% of the best farmland, down from 70%, government figures say. So this begs the question: once there are no farmers left in the country, who will become Mugabe's next scapegoat?
Fighting appears to have resumed in northern Cote d'Ivoire, thus seeming to end the already reeling peace process. The UN's IRIN service reports: Helicopter gunships have been used to attack rebel positions for the first time in nearly a year after 20 people died in clashes between government troops and unidentified attackers on the frontline with the rebel-held north of Cote d'Ivoire, a [government] military spokesman said on Tuesday. Given the relentess hostility to the Marcousis peace accords shown by the more rabid supporters of President Laurent Gbagbo and the virulent xenophobia of some of the pro-Gbagbo press, it's hardly surprising that Marcousis appears to have definitively collapsed. One wonders if Gbagbo really has any control over the situation anymore or if militias acting in his name have spiraled out of his control. Ironically, Reuters added, Gbagbo was on a visit, at the time, to the United States to promote business ties.
Monrovia's The Analyst has stories told by those who suffered under the nightmare of Charles Taylor's forces. Nigeria granted the former Liberian strongman asylum in a deal which saw the indicted war criminal leave power. One Nigerian spoke of his nightmare at the hands of Taylor's NPFL mafia: The rebels isolated Nigerians from the other captives and began amputating their forearms. I witnessed the amputation of tens of persons. Only Emmanuel and I survived. After amputating me, the rebels set me on fire and told me to go deliver their message to the Nigerian Government. [The Nigerian Army provided the bulk of West African peacekeepers who were ostenibly preventing Taylor from seizing total control of the country] Another added: They cut off the hands of my younger brother, Benedict, from beneath the elbow. They dumped him at the cemetery behind the house. He bled to death in front of me and his pregnant wife. I was next. The machete cut through the flesh and the bones of my hands but did not entirely severe them. With my hands dangling from my arms, the rebels also dumped me at the cemetery. Taylor has been indicted by the UN Special War Crimes Tribunal for Sierra Leone, for his alleged role in that country's own civil war.
In From Our Own Correspondent, a commentary program on the BBC, journalist Hilary Anderson speaks of the unfortunate Darfur region of eastern Sudan. At a refugee camp near the Sudanese border we began to talk to those who had fled Darfur and I soon realised that these were not normal stories of war. Fadidja Isaac Ali, 35 years old and from a town in Darfur called Mulli, sat before me with her baby in her arms as she talked. She had been shopping at the market in her village when the gunmen came. "The bullets began to fly, people fell, people ran. The evil men had come", she said. "Who are the evil men?", I asked., she said. All the stories we heard were similar. No-one in the refugee camps spoke of gun battles between soldiers, only of massacres of civilians by the Janjaweed militia - Arab militiamen often seen fighting with the Sudanese government - or of massacres resulting from aerial bombings of villages by Sudanese government planes. Every time I asked why they thought this was being done to them, they said the same thing: "It is because we are black." It may seem strange that here in the middle of Africa, one type of black person - they call themselves Arabs - would drive another blacker type of person from their homes.