Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Zim: Mad Bob won't blink at genocide

When Robert Mugabe undertook his murderous campaign to crush the Ndebele in Matabeleland during the 1980s, the planet should have realised then that here was an African leader who would stop at nothing and no one in his efforts to retain power.

And so it has proved: while the pirates off the coast of Somalia are holding ship-owners to ransom the government of Zimbabwe are holding the people of that country as hostages. The only real difference between the two situations being that in the case of the pirates they are unashamedly breaking every law in the book, while Mugabe and his henchmen are trying to pass themselves off as people of integrity.

The truth of the matter is that Mugabe and the Zanu-PF will not, under any circumstances, forego their privileged lifestyle primarily because, should they lose their steely grip on power, then all of their horrendous misdeeds are going to be laid bare for the people of Zimbabwe and the rest of the world to see.

Ever since losing the referendum in 2000 Mugabe began an ever-tightening media clampdown, leaving those inside the country with access only to that information which the Zanu-PF deemed fit for their consumption. Moreover, undesirables such as the foreign media and human rights groups are finding it more and more difficult to gain entry in order to assess just how bad the situation is. Over the weekend, for example, we witnessed members of the Elders group Kofi Annan, former president Carter and Grace Machel being denied visas.

Irrespective of Mugabe’s efforts to conceal the truth, we cannot ignore the fact that aid agencies have long been warning that around the turn of 2009, those five million people under threat of starvation could start to succumb in substantial numbers. It is common cause that the economy has collapsed and that most of the state institutions are working at a fraction of their former capacity. The life expectancy of Zimbabweans is already the lowest in the world while their inflation rate is so high it’s no longer worth calculating. If you then factor in an outbreak of cholera, which Mugabe tried to conceal, against a collapsed healthcare system, it is little wonder that more and more analysts and experts are coming to the same conclusion: Zimbabwe is on the brink of collapse.

What is of major concern is the fact that Mugabe and Zanu-PF have repeatedly shown that they don’t care how many Zimbabweans die — they’ve massacred plenty themselves — how many leave the country or how many are permanently incapacitated by the ongoing abuse and neglect. No price is too high for the people to pay for them to stay in power. If you need any proof of this then have regard to the confirmed massacres, the fact that during the presidential run-off Mugabe, incredibly, blocked the aid agencies from feeding the starving masses and the murderous onslaught against opposition voters throughout the elections.

Without rehashing the entire farce that was the Zimbabwean elections, Mugabe and his party, despite all their efforts to manufacture a result, lost. In terms of the presidency, the Mugabe manipulated electoral commission declared a run-off. This turned out to be a campaign wherein Mugabe murdered and tortured his people until Tsvangirai withdrew his candidacy to spare them further annihilation.

Unlike Mugabe who never has, Tsvangirai blinked: Mugabe thereafter declared himself president.

There remained, however, two major problems for Zimbabwe. The first was the fact that Mugabe and the Zanu-PF, through their ineptitude, cronyism and corruption, had turned this once prosperous country into a barren wasteland; everything from banking to education has been destroyed. The second, related to the first, was that they have alienated everyone and anyone who dared to criticise their disgusting conduct, leaving a situation whereby, no matter how much the international community wants to help Zimbabwe, they will not do so while Mugabe and co. continue to rule the roost.

Enter the power-sharing deal, which brought about a situation whereby Tsvangirai could de facto control the day to day running of the country through the Council of Ministers provided that he at least has Home Affairs and Finance as part of his cabinet allocations. Mugabe baulked on Home Affairs because it has control of the police who might well charge his party for past crimes against humanity, besides which he sees their first role as a political battering ram.

The result is a deadlock and growing support for the proposition that Zimbabwe is about to collapse if this is not already the case.

On Tuesday the parties will meet again in order to finalise a constitutional amendment allowing parliament to authorise a power-sharing government as well as Tsvangirai’s post of Prime Minister. This in addition to Mugabe trying to push through another amendment allowing him to pick the cabinet on his own. Apparently the crucial debate surrounding Home Affairs is not even on the agenda.

What is clear is that despite the meltdown that is looming Mugabe could not care less about the plight of his people. He will continue to play his games, conceal cholera epidemics, murder and torture opponents, deny human rights groups access and play chicken with aid agencies until he gets his own way.

Like Adolf Hitler he will also hold the view that Zimbabweans, like the Germans, deserve whatever fate befalls them because they have betrayed him. If that should be a genocide of five million or more Zimbabweans, then so be it.

Mugabe doesn’t blink.

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