Thursday, February 16, 2006

Apartheid returns to Africa, Corruption remains

Apartheid is one of the worst crimes black people have to endure in the 20th century. But now it looks like Zimbabwe want to do the same to white people. From South Africa’s Mail & Guardian
“Banks in Zimbabwe must not enter into contracts with white commercial farmers without asking the government first, the official Sunday Mail reported. National Security Minister Didymus Mutasa said some financial institutions were "denying new [black] farmers loans ... on the basis that the white commercial farmers had title deeds of the farms as collateral," the paper reported.”
This is part of along series of measures brought in by Robert Mugabi to slowly remove democracy and white people's rights from Zimbabwe. He is cracking down on the media. Shuting down independent newspapers and arresting journalists saying (From NY Times)
The journalists were "driven by the love for the United States dollars and British pounds, which they are paid by the foreign media houses to peddle lies,"
In an interesting case of irony. In 1983 Emmerson Mnangagwa, then Minister of State Security (From this is Zimbabwe)
He told a rally at the Victoria Falls that the government was considering as one option the burning down of “all villages infested with dissidents”. The dissidents were, in his words, “cockroaches” and 5 Brigade was the “DDT” brought in to eradicate them
DDT was a famous chemical that cause a lot of damage to the environment it was used in. Same to for the Zanu PF's rule of Zimbabwe. Inflation in Zimbabwe in January was a spectacular 613% compared to neighbouring Zambia at 12% and a GDP growth of -4%. Back in 2000 inflation was 50%. This is due mainly to Mugabi's policies. Like many countries in Africa white people controlled much of the decline in Zimbabwe’s economic collapse has been Mugabe’s policies of forced seizure of White owned land. Land redistribution has always been an issue in Zimbabwe since independence. It started on a voluntary selling basis which didn’t work as few sold. Then in 1992 it changed to a forced selling basis but with fair compensation. This was widely corrupt and the land merely went to cabinet ministers and other cronies. Because of this Britain then stopped its aid to the land reform programme. In 2000 the government staged a referendum to pass a constitution that would allow the acquiring of land compulsorily without compensation. The Government lost but supporters seized land anyway. Now there is 300 white farmers left farming in Zimbabwe, down from more than 4 000 in 2005. While white farmers have their land is due to colonial rule the manner in which Mugabe is going about rectifying this is counter-productive. By destroying the agricultural sectors viability he is in essence making the Black population less well off then before. And the country has severe fuel and food shortages. Protestors against the government are stoped. On Tuesday 159 women and students marching for bread and roses were arrested and jailed including a 0ne-year old baby. In May of 2005 he started Operation Murambatsvina" (Drive Out Trash) hundreds of thousands of poor peoples homes were destroyed. (From Wikipedia)
The Zimbabwean Police Commissioner, Augustine Chihuri, said that Operation Murambatsvina was meant to “clean the country of the crawling mass of maggots bent on destroying the economy”

So will anything be done to halt Mugabe.The easiest option is for the South African Government to put pressure on Mugabe. As Economist, Tom Hawkin said of South African President Thabo Mbeki (From Disillusioned Lefty)

"If he wants to, he can force Zanu-PF to the negotiating table, the exit package, free and fair elections" It's just that he appears not to want to, or lacks the conviction that this is what he should do but the South Africans seems unwilling to do this.
(From BBC)
South Africa's Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlaminini Zuma said South Africa would "never" condemn its Zimbabwean counterpart. "It is not going to happen as long as this government is in power," she told journalists.

So unless there is a change of government in South Africa. Which considering the main opposition has 12.4% of the vote compared to the ANC's 69.7 % . Thats not going to happen any time soon so little is going to be done. The next avenue is the African Union but considering that the actions of Mugabe are not uncommon in other African countries they are unlikely to act. The unwillingness to act was vocalised by an AU spokesman who said (From BBC)

If the government that they elected say they are restoring order by their actions, I don't think it would be proper for us to go interfering in their internal legislation,"
Zimbabwe has left the commenwealth so it has little influence in this situation. (I wrote about the Commenwealth here) The next port of call for action as always is the UN. Now as I pointed out over Iran the UN is weak due to other countries self interests. China is investing heavily in many African countries and Zimbabwe is no different. It is Zimbabwe’s biggest foreign investor and eager to get its hand on the worlds second largest platinum exporters stock. It is also the supplier of the radio-jamming equipment that the government uses to suppress the radio media. So the likelihood of China supporting the ousting of Mugabe is slim to none and slim just left town.

So then we are left with every anti-war peaceniks bogeyman a “Coalition of the Willing”. From (The Washington Post)
David Coltart, an opposition member of parliament, said Zimbabwe has been on the Bush administration's radar screen, even if not the president's. "George Bush is too preoccupied by Iraq to be personally engaged in the Zimbabwe crisis," he said. "But Colin Powell certainly was a friend of those struggling to bring democracy. It's too early to say whether Condoleezza Rice is focused on Zimbabwe."
In October Mugabe speaking at a UN meeting said (From BBC)
"Must we allow these men, the two unholy men of our millennium, who in the same way as Hitler and Mussolini formed [an] unholy alliance, form an alliance to attack an innocent country?" asked Mr Mugabe, apparently referring to Iraq. "The voice of Mr Bush and the voice of Mr Blair can't decide who shall rule in Zimbabwe, who shall rule in Africa, who shall rule in Asia, who shall rule in Venezuela, who shall rule in Iran, who shall rule in Iraq," he said

Was this a pre-emptive strike against the likely main instigators of his ousting. His only hope would be to develop enough international sentiment against this. But other then China I can not see any country rally to his side. I see 4 future outcomes.

  1. South Africa gets its act together
  2. The people will no longer tolerate his corrupt and catastrophic rule and rise up and topple him.
  3. A coalition of the willing lead by America or South Africa will either invade, topple or encourage and help option 2
  4. He will die. The man is 82 on the 21st. So this is the most likely scenario. Will his successor follow in his footsteps and reform. Is another question.

But I think Mugabe’s days are numbered. This can only be a good thing for all people in Zimbabwe.

Cartoon from here

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