What a difference an assassin's bullet would make

As the world turns to Africa as part of Bono's "Live Aid" warm-inner-glow-sing-a-song-or-a-dark-kiddie-dies-of-AIDS extravaganza, it's worth looking at a part of Africa that has taken giant strides backwards in the past couple of years. I speak of Zimbabwe, a country that at one time not so long ago seemed to have effectively removed the yoke of colonialism and was headed to a bright, and presumably yoke-free future. Nowadays, though, it's governed by a racist thug who seems to have a deep disdain for everyone but himself.

Robert Mugabe is a deeply troubling figure. For a few years now, he was nasty, but predictably nasty. The world knew of his hatred for colonialism, and his country's white population served as an effective proxy for the big C. Policies such as his land redistribution policy, whilst incredibly destructive to both the rule of law and economy, made sense when seen through the prism of reflexive anti-white racism. In more recent times, his nastiness has become more unpredictable. This from CNN:

Police have destroyed tens of thousands of shacks, street stalls and even the vegetable gardens planted by the urban poor at a time of acute food shortages, since launching the program dubbed Operation Murambatsvina, or Drive Out Trash, on May 19. Estimates of the number affected range between 300,000 and 1.5 million.

Mugabe says the campaign is necessary to fight crime and maintain health standards in Zimbabwe's cities.

The rationale, presumably, is for Mugabe to punish his critics, with areas which recorded a low Mugabe vote in last year's election most heavily targeted. It is a further sign, though that Mugabe has gone troppo and is destroying the lives of his country's black population worse than any colonialist possibly could have.

To see the sadness of a country in ruins, it's worth checking out a few stories from The Standard and The Independent, two sister papers which represent almost the only critical voices in a nation run by an elected depsot. Take your pick out of these depressing stories of life in a failed state:

Clean-up forces 300 000 pupils out of school
By our own staff

EDUCATION, one of the sectors where Zimbabwe won world recognition for post-independence successes, is a major casualty of the government's on-going clean-up operation, The Standard can reveal.

The Progressive Teachers' Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) and the Zimbabwe Teachers' Association (Zimta) estimate that as many as 300 000 children have dropped out of school after their homes were destroyed.
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Insult laws a gag on media - analysts
Ray Matikinye

ZIMBABWE'S restrictive Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa) in combination with insult laws have inhibited public discussion and gagged media probes into shady deals by high-ranking officials.

Experts say democracy and economic prosperity are not possible without public accountability of its leaders and transparency in their transactions, and vigorous public discussion of issues and choices.

Insult laws are statutes that make it a criminal offense to "insult" the honour or dignity of public officials. These statutes are used as vehicles to prevent and punish journalistic scrutiny of public records and official misdemeanours.
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Zim lacks way out of fuel crisis

THE International Monetary Fund, currently in the country this week, met with officials from the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe (Noczim) and the Ministry of Energy and learnt that Zimbabwe had no plan in place to save the country from the crippling fuel shortage.

Zimbabwe does not currently have any fuel in reserve as the shortages have continued to bite. This week fuel retailers said the country was experiencing its worst-ever fuel crisis with only a few service stations in Harare getting the commodity. There was virtually no fuel in smaller towns.

The impact of the shortages were also manifest during peak hours as many public transport operators have parked their vehicles due to the stockout.
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Zim's domestic debt soars to $10 trillion
Godfrey Marawanyika

ZIMBABWE'S domestic debt has ballooned to $10 trillion from $7 trillion as of April this year as government continues to borrow from local banks to finance its budget deficit.


A prize fuckwit

Comments

John Lee said…
as they say, Africa needs governance, not aid. Not that that exonerates the West of blame.
http://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy-africa_democracy/arms_2602.jsp
Guy said…
Needless to say I don't quite understand why tyrants like Hussein are supposedly worth invading the country to remove, whereas tyrants like Mugabe are just politely ignored in the hope that they will one day go away.

It doesn't add up.
Freeworldnik said…
Well with Hussein I guess we'd presided over the destruction of the powerful and organic resistance movement when we stood by and let him crush it in 1991. By 2003 there was no real diplomatic solution to stopping his mass murder and oppresion, as the local opposition was ineffective, countries with UN vetoes had vested oil interests in the Hussein regime, and Saddam knew that he could play a successful game of cat and mouse with weapons inspectors.

With Mugabe there remains a large and well-organised local opposition, even if it is subject to repression and persecution.

We still have the option of externally pressuring an internally-driven change, if we can exercise some smart diplomacy. This would involve getting neighbouring countries like South Africa to abandon their appeasement policies with Zimbabwe, and instead to join in the pressure.

All of this would hearten the local opposition, and throw the international spotlight on the situation. With the added support that they will surely have gained throughout this latest Mugabe pogrom, the opposition would be in a stronger position to bring about change.

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