Sunday, April 20, 2008

Zimbabwe Update

Zimbabwe's electoral commission has begun a recount of about two-dozen seats in the parliament, all won by the opposition MDC party. Since the MDC won a slim majority in the parliament, even the loss of a few seats could be enough to put the ZANU-PF back into power. Meanwhile, the results of the presidential election - held three weeks ago - still have not been released.

If there's any good news from the region its that South Africa refused to let a Chinese ship full of munitions bound for Zimbabwe to unload at its ports. You would think that a nation where the agriculture sector has largely shut down and where 25 million in the local currency still isn't enough to buy a loaf of bread might want to import something more useful like, say, food. But not Robert Mugabe, who ordered three million bullets, along with a few thousand rocket-propelled grenades for good measure, from China three days after the disputed presidential election - a clear indication on his intentions.

On Saturday former UN chief Kofi Annan took African leaders to task for not stepping up on the Zimbabwe problem. Annan, correctly, pointed out the silence of Zimbabwe's neighbors as Mugabe attempts to steal the presidency, and said that they needed to do more to end the situation.

The leaders of Zimbabwe's neighbors are conflicted. Mugabe was once a great voice in Africa's struggle against colonialism, the force that finally drove the British from what was then Rhodesia. Other leaders in the area are reluctant to criticize him; as if in doing so they would be turning their back on the struggle their own nations went through to escape their colonial past. But what they need to realize is that Mugabe's past doesn't match up with his present. He may have once led Zimbabwe to become an economic power in the region and the breadbasket of southern Africa, but now he is simply a thug desperately trying to hang on to power, destroying his country in the process.

You don't have to be an expert on world affairs to know Africa is a troubled place - poverty, hunger, civil wars, an explosive rate of HIV/AIDS infections all plague the continent. But these problems are made worse by something else Africa has too much of, poor government. Thugs like Mugabe are all too common. Its time for Africa's other leaders to do just that - lead. They need to tell Mugabe its time to go, that they won't sit silently by as he destroys Zimbabwe in a vain attempt to hang on to it. Hopefully South Africa's refusal to let Zimbabwe's munitions boat dock is a first step in this process.
Sphere: Related Content

No comments: