We must prevent a Zimbabwean genocide

Sokwanele [”Enough is Enough”], a Zimbabwean human rights NGO, has a flickr photo album that illustrates, rather graphically, the means that Zanu-PF and its fascist affiliates are using to cling to power (see previous post).

The photos in this album are not of extras in Hollywood’s latest “Afritragedy”. Neither are they the spurious efforts of western imperialist media monoliths to smear what some – rather frighteningly – consider to be a “saintly” Mugabe.

They show the results of systematic beatings and torture. They show the stirrings of what could ultimately become a genocide. Mugabe used crack troops for ethnic cleansing in Matabeleland in the early 1980s. It is quite possible he will resort to this sort of massacring again. After all, Angolan troops are allegedly ready for deployment to fight on his behalf. And Sokwanele’s blog has revealed that young men are being armed with AK47s; with a so-called war vet being quoted as saying: “Yes we are all being armed; we are going back to war”.

South Africa has a moral obligation – as a young democracy and a neighbour – to champion democracy and human rights in Zimbabwe.

It appears there seems to be South Africans that believe that Zimbabweans should be left to sort out their own problems. That is tantamount to claiming that South Africans should have fought the tyranny of apartheid by themselves without the support – in the form of sanctions and political pressure – of the international community.

Indeed, by the very same logic, people are justifying the world’s shocking indifference to the Rwandan genocide in which over 800 000 innocent people were murdered. Why? Because no country was bothered to stop the slaughter.

The Zimbabwean crisis could hardly be considered an “internal” issue anyway – not with approximately 2.5 million Zimbabwean refugees in South Africa and plenty more streaming across the Limpopo each day.

Thabo Mbeki and the rest of the lily-livered leaders that comprise the international community don’t just need to condemn the state-sponsored oppression in Zimbabwe. They need to actively work to resolve this crisis. Quiet diplomacy’s legacy is one third of Zimbabweans having fled their mother country and another third reliant on food aid to survive. The time for diplomacy – quiet or otherwise – is long over.

A few suggestions:

  • Leaders must ensure that no weapons destined for Zimbabwe enter the SADC. Send in the AU troops! Mbeki didn’t seem to mind them farting about in the Comoros, deposing Anjouan island’s unofficially elected leader at the behest of the federal Comoros government. Why can’t they be deployed to Harare to ensure the election results are released and respected?
  • The UN should get involved. This could be in the form of a stern security council resolution or posting blue-helmeted troops to keep the peace and disarm Zanu PF militia. Preferably both (although with China and Russia on the security council this is admittedly wishful thinking).
  • Impose targeted sanctions and travel bans on Zanu PF bigwigs. Freeze their overseas bank accounts too.
  • Flick the switch! Eskom should stop providing electricity to power Zanu mansions (virtually no one else in Zim can afford electricity).
  • The question the world must ask itself is whether the lives of helpless citizens in a distant African basket case are worth caring about.

    Let us hope that the verdict is “yes”.

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