From the archives….(This was written back in 2007 by Young Academic Editor Charles Whitworth)
As Charles Whitworth has found out, the international policy of ‘Quiet Diplomacy’ is resulting in hundreds of killings and thousands of beatings every day in Southern Africa…
If David Cameron was to be found with a fractured skull and nearly a hundred cuts to his head and neck after an anti-Labour speech in the commons, would the nation bat an eye-lid? Of course it would. If we then found out it had been inflicted by our police force under the instruction of Tony Blair, how would England react?
The political situation is obviously utterly different here than it is in Africa but the above example just goes to show how shameful the political climate has got in Zimbabwe, where Robert Mugabe’s 27th year of tyranny is getting as corrupt, violent and chaotic as it has ever been.
With presidential elections due to take place in the nation we once knew as Rhodesia this June, Mugabe has reacted by clamping down on any opposition activity whatsoever. His special police – who are part of his political party ZANU-PF (Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front) – are arresting any individual that they consider to be opposition, beating them to within an inch of their life and releasing them with no charge in the hope that they will be intimidated into silence.
Among the recently beaten is Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the only realistic challenge to ZANU-PF, the DMC (Democratic Movement for Change). Surely this blatant attack on the opposition by Mugabe and his army has underlined the importance of some real action by those who have the power to act.
Away from the brutality that is occurring, Mugabe is also shielding his notoriously shady political activities from the rest of the world, as well as the acute food shortages and lack of vital services. With Zimbabwe’s AIDS and HIV rates rising above 20 per cent this month and national inflation hitting 1600 per cent – the highest on the globe – he has threatened to expel British and US ambassadors from Harare, the nations capital and administrative headquarters.
According to BBC News, the Zimbabwean Foreign Affairs Minister, Simbarashe Mumberigegwe had told Christopher Dell and Andrew Pocock to “Get in line, or leave for good” at which point the pair left the conference.
These events must surely cause the delegates to fear for their safety, bearing in mind the level of violence taking place on a daily basis in the country.
News also, that Mugabe has ‘borrowed’ 3000 Angolan police officers to assist the already existing police with their work must worry civilians and opposition alike with the up and coming elections drawing ever nearer. ZANU-PF have stated that they have been drafted in to assist with quelling the violence and maintaining law and order – this seems to be a rather strange statement as the majority of the violence seems to come from Mugabe’s party themselves.
Surely it is now time for the South African policy of ‘quiet diplomacy’ to be disbanded, it has failed to work for the last quarter of a century and needs to be aborted or Robert Mugabe will continue to slaughter his opponents until his intended retirement date in 2010 – when the dictator will be 90.
When asked about the issue, the South African prime minister Thabo Mbeki stated: “Dialogue is the only way forward with this as we can not resort to violence, our main concern is that the Zimbabwean presidential elections could jeopardise our [South Africa] hosting of the 2010 FIFA World Cup” according to The Independent.
This statement must amaze the civilized world, speaking as the leader of a country that has suffered from circumstances such as these itself, Mbeki can only think of a football tournament that promises to bring a reasonable amount of revenue to his nation. In any case, Mugabe refuses to engage in dialogue with the opposition, as he believes them to be ‘stooges of the west’.
If the situation in Zimbabwe is to be in any way resolved, Robert Mugabe simply cannot be allowed to maintain power past March 2008, when the winner of this summer’s elections will take their seat. The nation needs to establish a normal political system where opposition parties can challenge for the running of the country without fear of physical violence, or worse.
There must be no reason why UN can not convene in order to suggest a plan for the development of a new constitution, the repealing of oppressive laws and internationally supervised elections similar to those seen recently in Iraq.
There are many steps that could be taken which would make the corrupt politicians in Zimbabwe think twice before acting in the way that they do; withdrawal of visa’s and the prohibition of their families from studying at European Universities or colleges to name just a couple.
Possible steps that could be taken are not in short supply, such as banning the nation from the EU-AU summit in Portugal later this year, it is whether or not the powers that be in the world today have the guts to stand up to these monsters. The world seems to be sitting back and watching a nation full largely of civilians, being oppressed and murdered.
Looking back, it seems crazy to think that a dictator like Mugabe has been allowed to assume control of a nation. Upon merging the only two political parties in Zimbabwe at the time, ZAPU and ZANU, he proclaimed that “Zimbabwe shall be free and then we shall enter South Africa and drive the whites into the sea” – surely statements such as these should spur individuals like Mbeki into action?
The truth is that tougher action needs to be taken, much tougher. Although the ZANU party spokesman, Nathan Shamuyarira, has been called before the African National Congress (ANC) and left in no doubt about their displeasure at the beatings and the African Union (AU) chief, John Kufuor, is trying hard to resolve the dispute – this will simply not do. Evil murderers such as these do not respond to slaps on the wrist as we have seen through the annals of time in any political wars.
With people being butchered and battered to death every day and the slums of settlements like Harare rife with rapes, stabbings and group executions surely this must now be considered a matter of international urgency.
Although Mr. Robert Mugabe poses no threat to international security, wrongdoings are occurring on a monumental scale on a par with those of Slobodan Milosevic and Saddam Hussein – to name some recent culprits.
The Zimbabwean president aims to cling onto power for years to come and the stronger nations who have the capability to prevent this must act soon or mass homicide will continue to grow in this small African colony.
To coin an old cliché: ‘The time has come for all good men to come to the aid of the party’.