Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwean thug-o-crat and faux President was sworn in for a sixth term after a reign of terror launched against all who opposed his bid for re-election. Mugabe, who has taken an economically sound nation which had a strong manufacturing base, mining industry (it is rich in natural resouces) thriving agricultural as well as tourism industies, and turned it into one of the world’s biggest economic basket cases.
Over the last seven years, Professor Craig Richardson of Salem College estimates the economy has shrunk by 40 percent, wiping out almost 60 years of gradual economic improvements. The standard of living has dropped to levels last seen in 1948. The World Health Organization estimates that Zimbabwe has the world’s lowest life expectancy — 34 years for women and 37 years for men.
Unemployment is at 80 percent. The currency is nearly worthless and inflation currently exceeds 3,700 percent per year. Last week, the black-market exchange rate for one U.S. dollar reached 40,000 Zimbabwean dollars.
The economic meltdown has led to environmental devastation. Zimbabwe, once known for its flourishing wildlife, used to have a sophisticated tourism industry that accounted for up to 6 percent of the country’s GDP. Hunger and lawlessness have put an end to that.
Brian Gratwicke, an Oxford-educated environmentalist and Zimbabwean national who runs a U.S-based nature and wildlife website estimates that “Eighty percent of 250,000 head of game that lived on privately owned commercial farms have been poached by land invaders – often with the encouragement of senior ZANU-PF officials who wanted to wrest control of the farms from their rightful owners.” To make matters worse, Gratwicke argues, chronic environmental problems such as deforestation and overgrazing, water pollution, uncontrolled fires, human-wildlife conflict, and wildlife-borne disease are spreading through Zimbabwe.
Needless to say, this nightmare has not been accomplished without a corresponding downturn in the country’s’ human rights condition. Copiously documented here, the violations are a stark indictment of the human suffering taking place under Mugabe:
The ruling party’s dominant control and manipulation of the political process through intimidation and corruption effectively negated the right of citizens to change their government. Unlawful killings and politically motivated kidnappings occurred. The state sanctioned the use of excessive force and torture, and security forces tortured members of the opposition, union leaders, and civil society activists. Prison conditions were harsh and life threatening. Security forces arbitrarily arrested and detained journalists, demonstrators, and religious leaders; lengthy pretrial detention was a problem. Executive influence and interference in the judiciary were problems. The government continued to forcibly evict citizens and to demolish homes. The government continued to use repressive laws to suppress freedom of speech, press, assembly, movement, association, and academic freedom. Government corruption and impunity remained widespread. High ranking government officials made numerous public threats of violence against demonstrators. The following human rights violations also continued to occur: harassment of human rights and humanitarian nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and interference with their attempts to provide humanitarian assistance; violence and discrimination against women; child labor and prostitution; discrimination against persons with disabilities and ethnic minorities; an increase in the number of HIV/AIDS orphans and child-headed households; harassment and interference with labor organizations critical of government policies; and attempts to supplant legitimate labor leaders with hand-picked supporters.
The current election is a well documented fraud, in which Mugabe’s main opponent, Morgan Tsvangirai pulled out before the voting, after escalating attacks on him and his supporters.
The Mugabe-appointed Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) said the 84-year-old incumbent won Friday’s run-off presidential election, in which he was the only candidate, with 85.51 per cent of the vote.
Those Zimbabweans who cannot prove that they voted for Mugabe are currently being hunted down and assaulted by his bands of traveling thugs.
The vaunted “international community” has been utterly ineffectual in dealing with the situation. A number of Mugabe’s African neighbors are supporting him, thereby facilitating the atrocities. A review of those neighbor’s and their positions toward him are illustrative of their impotence and/or complicity:
The African Union – Mugabe’s opponents and allies
The most surprising criticism of Mugabe came from the Angolan president, Jose Dos Santos, who has been one of Mugabe’s staunchest allies. In a message sent to Mugabe yesterday, Dos Santos said he welcomed the Zimbabwean’s statement that he is open to negotiations with MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
Botswana’s president, Seretse Ian Khama, is the only African leader so far to make an official protest against Robert Mugabe’s reign of terror. Botswana has seen its population of fewer than two million invaded by 800,000 Zimbabwean refugees. Mr Khama said he was “deeply disturbed” by Mugabe’s politically-motivated arrests.
Kenyan prime minister Raila Odinga has called on the international community to demand that Mugabe steps down from power, describing the run-off vote as a “shame to Africa”.
The government of Mozambique has called for renewed dialogue between Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party and the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) to solve the crisis. “We lament the loss of human lives (in the period before the first election on 29 March and before the uncontested run-off on 27 June], and hope that the injured make a speedy recovery,” a statement read.
Namibia’s Swapo government has been an unwavering ally of Robert Mugabe, and last week the country’s foreign minister, Marco Hausiku, described reports of electoral violence in Zimbabwe as “unverified rumours”. The “Swapo Elders Council,” comprising top party members, issued a statement blaming western countries for the crisis and urged Zimbabwean citizens to vote for Mugabe in the run-off.
The handling of the Zimbabwe crisis by Tanzanian president Jakaya Kikwete, current chairman of the 53-member African Union (AU), has been severely criticised by Amnesty International. In a statement, Amnesty said Mr Kikwete’s silence on Zimbabwe has been “deafening and is contrary to its own principles of respect for human rights and the rule of law”.
Zambian president Levy Mwanawasa has said: “What is happening in Zimbabwe is a matter of serious embarrassment to all of us.”
President Bush has been one of the strongest world leaders in condemning Mugabe and attempting to remove him from power.
United States President, Mr. George W. Bush, has ordered tougher sanctions against the Zimbabwean government headed by Mr. Robert Mugabe for “the regime’s blatant disregard for the Zimbabwean people’s democratic will and human rights”.
The hard slam from the American government is coming as Mugabe is to be sworn in as Zimbabwe’s president today, following his victory in a run-off election boycotted by the opposition candidate, Mr. Morgan Tsvangirai.
Bush, in a directive to his top aides including secretaries of state and the treasury, said the US was compiling sanctions and would also champion international campaign for sanctions against the administration, including an arms embargo.
He said the move was in response to “the Mugabe regime’s blatant disregard for the Zimbabwean people’s democratic will and human rights”.
While Bush’s actions are significant, pressure must continue to be applied until Mugabe is finally pushed from powere.
Robert Mugabe must go.
Nocomme1 also posts at Because I’m Right