Saturday, June 28, 2008

A Dark Day

The farcical Zimbabwean elections were held yesterday and with only one candidate to choose from the tyrant Robert Mugabe was duly re-elected as president of the ailing former bread basket of Africa.

Initially coming into power in 1980 after the Zimbabwe Liberation War he was trumpeted as the saviour of a region still smeared with racism as the NP still ruled South Africa with their own tyrannical fist of hatred, the fall out of which South Africa still suffers from today. ZANU-PF had close links with South Africa's own liberators the ANC during the struggle and allowed the exiled Umkhonto we Sizwe, translated as 'The Spear of Africa', to launch guerilla attacks including the infamous attack on Koeberg Power Station just outside Cape Town that coincided with the 70th anniversary of the ANC in 1982. This co-operative relationship is partly why the Thabo Mbeki has so far only exercised 'Quiet Diplomacy' when dealing with Mugabe and why Nelson Mandela had been silent until last week when speaking at an event in London that celebrated his 90th birthday he said that Zimbabwe's leadership was a 'tragic failure of leadership', which to my mind the same could be said of Thabo Mbeki's leadership of South Africa. Remember his HIV does not cause AIDS stance, so that the ANC wouldn't have to provide potentially life-saving AZT medicine or care for the large portion of the population that is infected with the disease? Mbeki also blocked a move at the UN Security Council to declare the election illegitimate.

Mugabe always professes to the people of Zimbabwe that no-one has given more to the country than him but what he has given them is poverty, fear and social ills that cut through a once prosperous society. His 'War Veteran' thugs have used the last month, well in truth since the farm reclamations in 1998, to intimidate into voting for the tyrant leading to countless murders, huge numbers of people being displaced from their homes and a spike to the already incredibly high fleeing to neighboring countries by the disenfranchised. This isn't the first time he has declared war on his own people - in the 80s he targeted members of the Ndebele tribe in central Zimbabwe, which was known as the Gukurahundi - literally the 'washing away of the chaff' - something which the MDC were going to bring him to trial for had they been elected. In the 90s he targeted white-owned farms and as a result the economy, which is agriculturally-based and relied heavily on the tobacco production of these farms, imploded and inflation has gotten to the point where 80% of Zimbabweans are unemployed and 90% live below the poverty line struggling to buy even rudimentary household necessities such as maize, oil and bread.

What Mugabe has done is despicable and the failure of the United Nations to do anything beyond impose sanctions that only serve to prolong the suffering of the people of Zimbabwe are further proof that the UN is nothing more than a bag of wind who couldn't sort out the parking at mall let alone do their duty and step in when the humanitarian crisis requires them to as the situation in Zimbabwe and Darfur surely does. They condemn Mugabe with speeches but not actions as they did with the crisis in the Sudan, a truly inept organization.

The current situation in Zimbabwe truly saddens me and it is one that I fear has no end in sight as the MDC supporters are bound to be further targeted in the coming weeks and with the rise of xenophobic violence in South Africa on the rise should they cross the border it is a case of jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire for these people who have surely lost all hope. Southern Africa is truly at a crisis point, and you know it is bad when the most stable economy in the region is Botswana who were the only nation to have the balls to decry Mugabe but it is a bit like Puerto Rico telling the US what to do.

Today is truly a dark day for freedom, today is truly a dark day for Zimbabwe.

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