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Turmoil in Zimbabwe: World Leaders Reach New Heights of Inaction


There are still no results from Zimbabwe’s March 29th presidential elections. In my first blog I talked about the growing apprehension of the populace during the initial post-election week. My second blog discussed the legal fights and growing danger faced by Zimbabwe opposition party members. This time we’ll be checking out the amazing diplomatic stalling techniques of South African President Mbeki during this crisis.

In her ever-so diplomatic approach, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said this past week that, “It’s time for Africa to step up” and deal with this crisis. (nice job of passing the buck Condi)

South Africa has the largest economy within Africa—giving it major bargaining power with states such as Zimbabwe.

Enter South African President Thabo Mbeki.

He traveled Zimbabwe on Saturday April 12th to meet with Mugabe. Following these talks, he declared that there was “no crisis” in Zimbabwe.


Did I mention that only the day before Mugabe had banned all political rallies amid reports of escalating violence throughout the country?

So let’s recap:

1. Violence and intimidation are rampant in Zimbabwe over blatantly flawed election

2. Yet the Present of South Africa assures us that there is no crisis and says the diplomats must “engage” with both sides.

And now we come to the best part of all: The Chinese angle—yes apparently the Sudanese government aren’t the only ones touting Chinese armaments.

Meet the An Yue Jiang, a Chinese ship allegedly bearing three million rounds of AK-47 ammunition, 1,500 rocket-propelled grenades and 2,500 mortar rounds en route to Zimbabwe.

When the ship docked in Durban, South Africa this past week, human rights organizations called on Mbeki and the South African government to do something to halt the further transit of the weapons.

The South African government replied that,

“If the buyer is the Zimbabwean sovereign government and the seller is the Chinese sovereign government, South Africa has nothing to do with that,”

Fortunately, dockworkers and cops thought differently. The dockworkers’ union refused to unload its cargo. The police officers union voiced their solidarity with this position—warning the government that it would not be able to use cops as scabs. The ship left Durban on Saturday fully loaded in search of a more welcoming (read: dictator controlled) port.

South Africa is the strongest “democratic” government in Africa. The one to whom Secretary Rice obviously referred when she called upon Africa to “step up”.

But, if these events are any indicator, South African president Mbeki cannot be trusted to take any action to prevent massive casualties in Zimbabwe.

It’s time to stop passing the buck on Zimbabwe and similar crises. If we truly care about human rights and loss of African lives we must pressure our governments to create an international African crisis response team.

In fact, simply the threat of such intervention on the continent would most likely move Mbeki to stop f**king around and use his economic power to bring Mugabe to the negotiating table.

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