Monday, November 24, 2008

Carter: Zimbabwe "much worse" than imagined

Speaking from South Africa, former President Jimmy Carter said that the ongoing crisis in Zimbabwe is "much greater, much worse" than he had imagined.

"The entire basic structure in education, healthcare, feeding people, social services and sanitation has broken down," Carter said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times.

Carter, along with former UN chief Kofi Annan were suppose to travel to Zimbabwe last weekend, but the Zimbabwean government refused to let them in, part of a pattern, critics say, of the government refusing to admit that there are problems within the country.

Not to be outdone, the Guardian (UK) newspaper says that Zimbabwe is "on the brink of collapse". Along with its other problems, Zimbabwe is now dealing with a cholera epidemic that has, unofficially, killed 300 people, and infected an estimated 60,000 more so far. The country will also likely deal with another round of famine since the Guardian reports, this year's planting season was a loss because there was no seed available for farmers to sow. This means that Zimbabwe's farms won't be able to harvest crops until April 2010 at the earliest.

There is international help available, millions of dollars in foreign aid, but governments are waiting for the two rival factions in Zimbabwe to form a unity government, something President Robert Mugabe has been blocking for the past few months. Now South Africa, which has been serving as the mediator between Mugabe's faction and the party of opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, is threatening to withhold $30 million in food aid until the two sides start talking again.

The problem is that South Africa helped to create this mess in the first place. Tsvangirai has been complaining for months that South Africa has been favoring Mugabe in the negotiations. Even a few weeks ago South Africa’s idea for a settlement in the standoff between the two sides was to let Mugabe retain partial control over the country’s security forces, the group that has been keeping him in power for much of the last decade. It’s a solution that would only allow the current situation to continue. And to threaten to withhold food aid in the face of a growing famine just seems reckless.

Meanwhile, things will only get worse for Zimbabwe.
Sphere: Related Content

No comments: