Saturday, December 6, 2008

More calls for Mugabe to go

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown added his voice to the chorus of world leaders telling Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe it's time to go. The situation in Zimbabwe gets worse by the day, a cholera outbreak, caused by the country's crumbling water and sewer systems, has already killed more than 600 people. Refugees are now spreading cholera to Zimbabwe's neighbors South Africa and Botswana. Brown said that this makes the situation in Zimbabwe "an international rather than a national emergency."

Botswana's foreign minister, meanwhile, blamed his fellow Southern African neighbors for allowing Mugabe to stay in power so long. Phandu Skelemani told BBC radio that Zimbabwe's neighbors could bring down Mugabe's regime in a matter of weeks if they wanted to. The reason? Zimbabwe is a landlocked country, so all of its imports must be unloaded at ports in neighboring countries and then shipped into Zimbabwe. Skelemani said that if neighboring countries just refused to supply Mugabe's government with gasoline, it could be enough to bring him down. "If you deny him petrol which is used by the armed forces, which is used by the police, I don't think he'll last two weeks," he said.

Earlier in the year dockworkers in South Africa refused to unload a shipload of weapons ordered by Mugabe from China, because they thought Zimbabwe's security forces would use them to silence the opposition. The ship ultimately had to return to China without unloading, so Skelemani makes a good point on how vulnerable Zimbabwe is to outside pressure. Other African nations though have been reluctant to stand up to Mugabe because in the late 1970's Mugabe was a hero in Zimbabwe's struggle for independence from their colonial masters Great Britain. Of course since then Mugabe has turned into a run-of-the-mill despot doing whatever it takes to stay in power, the kind of leader that has been holding Africa back for decades now.

Until Zimbabwe’s neighbors decide to stand up for the ideas of democracy and responsible leadership, the situation will only get worse.
Sphere: Related Content

No comments: