Wednesday, October 19, 2005

There he goes again

Zimbabwe's dictator Robert Mugabe is never out of the headlines for long. The megalomaniac makes sure of that, lest the carefully nurture cult of personality surrounding him wane. First, his regime felt it necessary to briefly arrest the US ambassador to the country. The American envoy's sin? He inadvertently walked into a poorly marked military area while walking in Harare's National Botanical Gardens.

That there a restricted area could possibly be entered inadvertantly from a public garden shows how incompetent the Zimbabwean military is. Any military with the slightest clue would have surrounded the area with well-marked fences and perhaps barbed wire, thus preventing inadvertant access from an urban and well-frequented public garden in the country's largest city.

While this is how sane people would see the incident, as you might expect Mugabe's spokesman saw it differently. "The American ambassador must consider himself very lucky that he is dealing with a professional army that the Zimbabwean national army is... Elsewhere, and definitely in America, he would have been a dead man."

Then, Mugabe attended an international food conference in Rome where he engaged in his favorite sport: blaming Tony Blair and George W. Bush for all of Zimbabwe's problems, most of which Mugabe himself created.

It's astonishing that Mugabe was invited to attend a conference on food since he's widely accused of manipulating food aid to punish political enemies, real or perceived. It's astonishing that he was invited to attend a conference on food since his destruction of Zimbabwe's agricultural sector is one of the biggest reasons for the huge food shortage throughout southern Africa. The European Union said Mugabe's rant justified its travel ban (with exceptions for UN conferences) on him.

Maybe if he spent less time scapegoating Blair and Bush and arresting foreign diplomats for no reason and more time feeding his own people, Zimbabwe would be in a far better situation. But his anti-Blair/Bush screeds make him a very popular man throughout much of non-Zimbabwean Africa which is happy to ignore his massive human rights abuses and general disrespect for indigenous Zimbabweans. And since Robert Mugabe has always been about his own gigantic ego, this is good enough for him.

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