Jimmy Carter has done it again: pushing peace with a murderous government who has a history of killing their political opponents, and who has broken agreements in the past.

Jimmy Carter also speaks of hope.

In a statement Saturday, the members of The Elders founded by former President Nelson Mandela said they hoped the deal would ease the country’s humanitarian crisis.

Carter urged the international community to “give this agreement the best chances of success.”

Ah, Peace in our time.

No, I’m not talking about Hamas, but Zimbabwe.

Just because President Mugabe has made agreements in the past and then manipulated the agreement so the opposition would be destroyed, and just because Mugabe stole the last two elections via threats of withholding food aid to villagers and by sending in his thugs to intimidate voters doesn’t mean that we trust him to keep his word, does it?

Alas, in this case, the agreement is not backed with the idea “speak softly and carry a big stick” but “pretty please with sugar on it”.

You see, these “elders” and even President Obama are lauding the incomplete paperwork of the latest agreement as a breakthrough: yet there is no way to enforce the agreement except to send Mugabe a nasty letter.

And of course, once the ink on the paper is dry, the next step is to stop sanctions, pouring “development” money into the country.

But there is no guarantee that the money will go to the MDC: One suspects a lot of the money will merely go to allowing the thugs of the government to store a lot more of the wealth in their overseas bank accounts (which one report says is in Singapore Banks). And allowing the government controlled by Mugabe’s thugs to get more money will enable them to pay the soldiers who are now unpaid and hungry and maybe even a bit mutinous.

Carter and other “international” peace types talk of Africa solving their own problems. But in this case, fellow revolutionaries in South Africa have been co-enablers of Mugabe’s rape of Zimbabwe for years.

Of course, some African leaders such as the president of Botswana are willing to point out that “the emperor has no clothes”, but the rest are either almost as bad as Mugabe, owe him favors, or see him as a hero of the revolution who can’t be criticized.

The MDC is aware of the problem, and promises not to go along with the agreement if Mugabe tries to change things.

A  timetable set by the regional grouping SADC sets out that a unity government must be in place by the 13th of February, with Tsvangirai and his two deputies being sworn in on the 11th February. On Tuesday this week a meeting of the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (JOMIC) composed of ZANU PF and MDC officials is set to meet to iron out the outstanding issues. Analysts say its unlikely ZANU PF will make any significant concessions given that the MDC have already committed to the deal.

Chamisa told us ZANU PF would not swallow their party as some feared. He said they were entering the deal as partners and not joining ZANU PF like what PF ZAPU did in 1987. Chamisa said they accepted criticism from those who were sceptical about the deal but said what was important was achieving a democratic Zimbabwe even if people disagreed on strategies. “We won people-power in March last year, now (via this deal) we are moving to getting state power,” he said.

So the MDC, under severe pressure, has again signed a paper that will probably end up meaningless when Mugabe twists the meaning of the agreement. But don’t expect the US to continue to pressure Mugabe to resign.

President Obama is going along and imitating Carter, and has now had the US State Department stop saying that Mugabe should resign, but instead to let local African countries handle the problem. If the agreement falls through, the plan is to take it to the UN security council.

The UN route was tried in the past only to be blocked by China and Russia, but presumably the new president will smile and charm them to change their minds.

President Obama should be ashamed of his “hands off” attitude toward Zimbabwe. His own father was destroyed psychologically and financially by political corruption in Kenya, yet Obama seems unaware of how intimidation and threats of violence can destroy ordinary folks.

Yet it now seems that Obama will imitate Jimmy Carter in his milquetoast attitude toward “difficult” governments, pretending that what is on paper is real, that multilateral talks will solve everything, and that if one talks sweetly enough, the lion will lie down with the lamb.

And if you believe that one, I know a bridge in Brooklyn that I’d like to sell you.


Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. She blogs on human rights in Zimbabwe at Makaipablog.

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