International condemnation intensify over Mugabe’s brutal rule

Amin George Forji

With the humanitarian and political situation in Zimbabwe deteriorating from bad to worse on a daily basis, the African Union and Southern African countries who have since kept a tradition of silence on the matter, have now began coming out of he bag, following the brutal crackdown on a peaceful opposition rally last Sunday, and the eventual torture of leaders of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) at police cells. The British PM, Tony Blair on Sunday told parliament that he will press other EU states for new sanctions on Mugabe.


“We will press the European Union to widen the political sanctions that were introduced in 2002 and introduced very much as a result of our prompting at the time,…We will be urging partners in both those institutions to come out with strong statements against what is happening in Zimbabwe, which is appalling, disgraceful and utterly tragic for the people of Zimbabwe, ” Blair said.

Of the condemnations from within and withal Africa, the most outstanding so far has undoubtedly been that of Zambian president, Levy Mwanawasa, who has implied that intervention, most probably military action will be the last resort to rescue the people of Zimbabwe who have suffered for too long. Describing Zimbabwe as a “sinking Titanic”, Mwanawasa early this week, while on a state visit to Namibia suggested that Southern African countries should get out of he cold and rescue the poor passengers (people of Zimbabwe, because as he put it:

“Quiet diplomacy has failed to help solve the political chaos and economic meltdown in Zimbabwe,” Mwanawasa remarked.

“As I speak right now, one SADC country has sunk into such economic difficulties that it may be likened to a sinking Titanic whose passengers are jumping out in a bid to save their lives.”

Zambian papers have since reported that the government of Mwanawasa is really fed up with Mugabe and consequently is soon going to take a stand on Zimbabwe, in cooperation with the Southern African Development Community (SADC). This has been interpreted to suggest that a military solution is most likely already on the table of Mwanawasa.

Even if nothing happens in the end, it will be the furthest comments and stand ever made on Zimbabwe by an African nation, since the crises erupted in 2000.

“Zambia has so far been an advocate of quiet diplomacy and continues to believe in it. But the twist of events in the troubled country necessitates the adoption of a new approach,” Mwanawasa warned on Monday.

Zimbabwe’s 83 years old president and pioneer leader since independence in 1980, Robert Mugabe, after initially putting the country on a very good footing, has since 2000 made a u-turn in his policies, hence ruling with an iron fist, or as international media have it, “a reign of terror”.

After his brutal crackdown on an opposition rally last Sunday, a statement from the African Union called for “respect for human rights and democratic principles in Zimbabwe.” Although this was a rather mild condemnation from a body of it’s calibre, it is the furthest it has ever gone on criticizing the human rights atrocities of the Mugabe regime. Analysts welcomed the statement with the hope that it will be the beginning of the end of the political blind eye she has given on major crises rocking the continent.

South Africa, a giant in Southern Africa, and Zimbabwe’s highest donor of aide, also for the first time also came out of the cold criticizing the torture as well as urged the government of Mugabe to respect the rule of law.

Despite universal condemnation on his brutal rule, especially from Western countries , economic sanctions as well as an EU ban on his person and his government officials from traveling to the EU, his regime has survived, deposing white farmers of their farms and lands and escheating them to friends and party supporters, with no mechanical agriculture background; the regime has further placed the country o a perpetual state of emergency, outlawing political gatherings, putting opposition activists to jail, demolishing houses of opposition supporters, amongst other atrocities. The country has the worst human rights record in Southern Africa, and in fact ne of the very worst in the whole world. All foreign media are banned from broadcasting in Zimbabwe except Al Jazeera and South African networks.

Zimbabwe has been in perpetual economic decline ever since President Robert Mugabe began seizing large commercial farms from white farmers in 2000, handing them over to landless blacks, most of whom have no mechanical farming experience. Mugabe has categorically denied that his land reform program contributed to the food crisis, instead attributing the problem to natural causes and consistent drought.

The situation is so precarious that the cost of bread (if at all available) has risen by over 70 percent, pushing Zimbabwe’s inflation rate to more than 1600 percent, the highest in the world.More than 40% of school age are unable to attend enroll in primary school nowadays, less to talk of daily meal, although the country once had the highest literacy rate in the continent.

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