Sunday, July 06, 2008

Who supports Mugabe and who opposes him

The reaction of African leaders to the Mugabe-made crisis in Zimbabwe is revealing. In most cases, the reaction is predictable based on the personal history of the leaders in question.

Bob Mugabe's election 'victory' has been denounced by leaders like Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Kenyan prime minister Raila Odinga.

Sirleaf was cheated victory in 1997 in an election under very similar circumstances; one that was rigged and tarred by massive violence by thugs loyal to the 'winner' warlord (and later indicted war criminal) Charles Taylor.

Odinga was named prime minister of a national unity government following elections that he claims was rigged by the incumbent in which saw serious ethnic violence in which some 1500 people were killed.

Mugabe's 'win' was also rejected by neighboring Botswana, the only country in Africa that has been a democracy non-stop since independence.

Mugabe's betrayal was also criticized by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and former South African president and political prisoner Nelson Mandela, two men who know more than a little about living under an undemocratic regime that commits massive human rights abuses and practices state terror.

While Mugabe and his apologists often invoke scapegoats like the British and American leaders, their smokescreen conveniently ignores the avalanche of criticism and disrespect he's receiving from Africans themselves.

By contrast, the African heads of state who endorsed Mugabe's state terror and fraud of an election tended to be those who engaged in such activities themselves.

The Zimbabwean tyrant was endorsed by one of his own: Gambia's Yayah Jammeh, a great patron of human rights. Of course, Jammeh's policy on AIDS has been about as effective as Mugabe's.

Even Senegal, once seen as a beacon of democracy in Africa, is towing the pro-Mugabe line. Not surprising since President Abdoulaye Wade's administration has been under heavy criticism domestically for its increasingly authoritarian tendencies.

Senegal's foreign minister imploed that the West should "leave us [Africans] alone and [that] we be left to decide our own destinies."

I'm sure the Africans in Zimbabwe would be thrilled for the privilege of being allowed to decide their own destinies, in much the same way the Senegalese did in 2000.

The main exception to this trend is, of course, the shameless appeasement of South Africa's Thabo Mbeki.

Something like 22 of the over 50 African Union heads of state came to power via un-democratic paths, so it's hardly surprising that Mugabe was greeted so warmly at the recent AU summit in Egypt (a country that's been under de facto martial law for 27 years).

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