Masthead graphic based on a painting by Gudrun Thriemer.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

I have media issues: Zimbabwe

Canadian reports on the elections in Zimbabwe have been limited to anything that fits with the pose of righteous hand-wringing. Blogger Katch Up "Point on Africa" presents some supplementary viewpoints.

Catch up believes that Morgan Tsvangirai won the March elections in Zimbabwe. However, whether or not the MDC "will capture what is rightfully theirs" is a tossup.

The options?

"...placing any hope in a people’s revolution is futile....Mounting pressure on Mugabe to quit is a lullaby to a sleeping child – useless. When sanctions were placed on his country he reminded Zimbabweans how a capable leader he had been but for economic sanctions by Western enemies of progress. Chronic food, fuel and jobs shortages are taken by ZANU-PF like a natural catastrophe that it is not responsible for.

"Military intervention? AU can launch an armed solution based on the African Union (AU) charter, amended in 2003 to permit military intrusion in countries facing "a serious threat to legitimate order". So far however, AU has placed colossal hope on a peaceful resolution rather than war. If anything, Mugabe’s clout as a nationalist is still high among African presidents with most of them blaming the West in this case."

Catchup also reblogs an article by Thuo Kiragu from Kenya Imagine, a popular online idea lab. The task that cries out to one and all: "showing Bob the door." But that is easier said than done.

International concern for the suffering of Zimbabweans is tainted with hostility. For Kiragu "It was no coincidence that the choir-master, leading the chorus for the chastisement of Mugabe was Britain; the repossessed land was after all almost entirely repatriated from white Zimbabweans of British decent."

The African Union could help, but
"African heads of state have furnished Mugabe with the extra fuel he needs to keep on ruling; their respect for him as a colonial liberator. He is indeed, and his contribution to freedom struggle is greatly admired.

"His leadership errors notwithstanding, the laurels that adorn Mugabe's head for liberating his country from minority white rule will not easily fade away. Many in Africa still believe that repossessing land from white citizens who enjoyed the use of an inordinately large fraction of Zimbabwe was the very mark of the courage, one that is to be emulated. Many more still applaud the Zimbabwean leader when he tells off Western critics and advises them to put their time to better use than railing against Zimbabwe."


"He never fails to remind his supporters that the economy has been damaged by these sanctions and that otherwise, they well know what a capable leader he is - the years of rapid growth and service delivery after independence remain etched in many minds."

From this perspective, Mugabe comes off looking almost like an African Castro, but one accompanied by a much deeper vein of ambivalence, both for his own behaviour and for the sour grapes of Western imperialists.

Still, as Kenya Imagine puts it, "people in this Southern Africa country need desperate rescue" but "...a forceful intervention seems like the last of the cards layable, even in the name of a greater good."

All this suggests the responsibility to protect, a principle freely invoked in Afghanistan, but never mentioned regarding Zimbabwe, or Darfur or the DRC--to name just three likely candidates.Recommend this Post

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