The conditions in Zimbabwe continue to deteriorate, with Mugabe postponing the run off election until June 27.
In the meanwhile, violence against opposition leaders continues, with numerous reports of attacks against the opposition and against civilians. An especially bad attack was on Sunday, when thugs invaded and beat those attending services at anÂ Anglican church whose priests don’t recognize a former bishop who has become Mugabe’s henchman. There are numerous reports against opposition leaders, trade unionists, and others who are part of the opposition. The latest assassination was of Gibson Nyandoro,a veteran of the war for independence, whose only “crime” was raising a hand showing opposition support at a rally before the election.
Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who had planned to return to his country, remains in Johannesburg due to warnings of assassination if he returns to Zimbabwe.
In the meanwhile, the three million Zimbaweans in South Africa are now being threatened by “Anti immigration riots”. Earlier anti immigrant riots were against Somali shopkeepers, who some resented for being successful and taking business away from locals. The newest riots, which included burning people to death by dousing them with gasoline and placing a tire over their neck, has horrified locals, but has received little publicity in the west. AndÂ the lawlessness is spreading to other townships, attacking not only immigrants from not only Zimbawe but Mozambique and Malawi.
Unemployment is high in some of these townships, and there is resentment when fleeing refugees from Zimbawe take jobs, partly because much of the Zimbabwean diaspora includes the educated who no longer can find work in their native land.
The BBC reports that South Africa President Mbeki will form a commission to investigate the riots; ANC leader Zuma, in contrast, is urging that the riots be stopped.
The murder rate and chaos in the slums of South Africa is notorious, and the police often cannot control the gangs.Â However, the SABC reports that the attacks don’t seem to be spontaneous violence, but instigated by a few smaller groups.
Zimbabweans, suspect that the violence is being instigated by Mugabe’s party because many of the refugees support his opponent, and that the Mbeki government is failing to stop the violence because of his friendship with Mugabe.
Most of the Zimbabwean diaspora are against the Mugabe government, and have held demonstrations in Johannesburg and many other countries. They blame Mubeki because he refused to pressured his friend Mugabe to resign. As a result, Mugabe continues to spread terror, and the country’s economy continues to deteriorate.
Finally, western papers two weeks ago had headlines about a shipment of arms from China that were supposed to be shipped to Zimbabwe. Everyone was happey when the local trade unions prevent the offloading of the arms.
Initially reports said the arms are still on the ship, to be returned to China. However, the ship has since left South Africa for Angola and the Congo.
Now, several South African papers and the UKTelegraph have reported that the arms were indeed unloaded in either Angola or the Congo and shipped to Zimbabwe.
China has many ties with Africa, including supplying basic consumer goods at a low price. There was some speculation if the arms, and the “Chinese army personnel in uniform” reported by some locals are there to help Mugabe or merely to protect their own nationals during the unrest.
So as Zimbawe continues to descend into chaos, the policies of South Africa’s President is leading to instability in that country.
Archbishop Tutu has suggested that international peacekeepers stablize the violence so that the elections can be fair and free, however, given the track record of South Africa, the African Union, and the United Nations, few actually expect anyone to intervene to stop the spiral of chaos.
Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. She writes on human rights problems in Zimbabwe at Makaipa blog.