Monday, June 23, 2008

Those are human beings in Zimbabwe

From Bridget Johnson at Pajamas Media today with my comments below the star line.

Johnson begins - - -

If you want to challenge Robert Mugabe — who once claimed that he’d be president until 100 years of age — you’ll be lucky to come out of the experience alive.

That’s what makes opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai a true survivor. Tsvangirai’s party announced Sunday that he will pull out of his presidential runoff race against Mugabe in the midst of mounting violence and intimidation.

Tsvangirai is president of the Movement for Democratic Change — something Zimbabwe is aching for after the catastrophic rule of Mugabe — and has survived, by his count, four assassination attempts at the hands of Mugabe’s goons, including a 1997 attempt to throw him out of a 10-story window and a savage beating last year as punishment for proceeding with a banned protest march.

After forcing Mugabe to a runoff in the presidential election this year — and let’s face it, the MDC probably won more than 50 percent outright, besides just edging out Mugabe as claimed — Tsvangirai’s return to Zimbabwe to campaign was delayed by word of an assassination plot that allegedly was organized by military intelligence.

Now the man who revealed the damning details of that plot — which allegedly involved 18 snipers being specially tasked with taking out Tsvangirai — will likely be killed by Mugabe.

Tendai Biti, secretary-general of the MDC, was hauled into a Harare court last Thursday, accused of penning documents that call Mugabe a criminal. Even though that shoe fits, the MDC claims the state’s “evidence” consists of forgeries with “not even an attempt to simulate the accused’s signature.”

This opposition is classified as subversion, with capital punishment as the convenient penalty. Biti has been refused bail.

Also last week, 27-year-old Abigail Chiroto, the wife of the mayor of Harare — Emmanuel Chiroto, a member of the MDC — was abducted along with her 4-year-old son; the couple’s house was also firebombed.

Abigail’s blindfolded body was discovered hours later, and the boy was released. “My son keeps on saying to me, ‘Daddy, go and get mummy from the forest, go and get her and bring her home’,” Emmanuel Chiroto told the Telegraph.

The MDC estimates that since the first round of voting on March 29, “about 70” opposition supporters have been tortured and killed by operatives of Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party. …

Johnson’s entire report’s here.

Mugabe’s terrorism is shocking, but nothing new. The world has known about it for decades thanks to courageous journalists and opposition leaders such as Morgan Tsvangirai, Emmanuel and Abigail Chiroto and many others who’ve endured threats, imprisonment, torture and death because of their democratic opposition to Mugabe.

Mugabe’s use of terrorism has been essential to his holding on to power as Zimbabwe has imploded into social and economic chaos that’s included chronic food shortages and famines in a country which, at the time it gained independence from Great Britain, was a net food exporter.

But it isn’t just terrorism that’s enabled Mugabe to wield power. Most Western experts agree that without the staunch support of his friend President Thabo Mbeki and Mbeki's South African government, Mugabe would long ago have been driven from power. But as recently as this past April, Mbeki made the unbelievable comment that there was “no crisis” in Zimbabwe.

When you look at Zimbabwe’s agony you have to ask yourself: “Where are the human rights groups?” “Where is the outrage of Western governments?”

We heard so much from human rights groups and Western governments at the time of Abu Ghraib.

We were told that was because of the rights groups and governments revulsion at the way human beings were treated in Abu Ghraib.

Well, the people of Zimbabwe are human beings, too.

So where’s the outrage?


Danvers said...


I grew up in Zimbabwe, and left shortly after 'independence' in 1980, and although South African born, I still consider myself a Zimbabwean.

The entire catastrophe that is the current day Zimbabwe was entirely predictable; ZANU (now ZANU PF) used the same tactics they use today to win the 1980 election. Lord Soames the representative of Margaret Thatcher was so busy trying to appease the leaders of the "liberation movements' that he almost singlehandedly condemned Zimbabweans to their current day fate.

Mugabe, shortly after independence, showed his real nature, by ordering the Gukurahundi Massacre of members of the Ndebele tribe; the supporters of his main opposition in Parliament, Joshua Nkomo,leader of ZAPU. Part of Mugabe's army, specifically the 5th Brigade with the support North Korean soldiers murdered between 10 and 20000 Ndebele civilians. They operated and received orders directly from Mugabe's Office (so there will never be any doubt on whose orders the ensuing massacre wascarried out)! Exact figures of those killed will never be known. The 5th Brigade was lead by Perence Shiri, who today is the head of the Zimbabwean Airforce.

This is the same Mugabe who was feted by Western Leaders, knighted by Queen Elizabeth, received honourary degrees from British and American Universities. All this plus a state visit to UK as well.

The failure of the West and others to do anything constructive about the crisis is in my opinion a reaction to the post colonial guilty conscience suffered by the west.

Far better that countless innocent civilians be massacred, than Britian (or the USA) should suffer any finger-pointing by a black African politician.

There was a similar response to the genocide in Rwanda - Britain and the USA knew full well what was about to transpire, but decided it was better to ignore it, in case they offended a black politician.

For similar reasons they pander to Mbeki who, is quite the most duplicitous and reprehensible politician in power today.

But at least let it be said that Thatcher, Major, Blair & Brown didn't offend a Commonwealth head of state.

I also feel that black Zimbabweans are partly to blame; they have known the truth about Mugabe for almost 30 years. If ever there was a case of "be careful what you wish for" this is it. Yet they did nothing to curtail the power of Mugabe for the best part of 22 years.

Mugabe and his cohorts are savages, nothing more. They will eventually get their day in court, facing a war crimes tribunal. A pity it is ~20 000 deaths too late. This is also a factor in why they refuse to give up power.

Anonymous said...

It's difficult keeping a straight face when I hear Aframericans talk about African "culture." In virtually every African nation where the Europeans were thrown out, terror and misery rule. Tribes are killing (and perhaps eating?) other tribes. All the while pretending to be civilized.
Tarheel Hawkeye

RedMountain said...

Well said. I believe one of the right Rev. Wright's GD's was in reference to this very policy of America not doing anything to help problems in African nations.

And perhaps Michelle O's comment about a mean country is in response to the attitude exhibited in Tarhell's post.

Anonymous said...

John -

In the comment on Ms. Obama, I indicated that sometimes dystopia is the outcome of trying to get to utopia. That applies in spades to Zimbabwe. There were those in the West who objected to white rule in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) as did people like Mugabe. (Note, my understanding is that unlike South Africa, there was not much in the way of apartheid in Rhodesia.) Instead of a having blacks integrated into the white power structure at a measured pace (thereby getting them used to the Anglo-Saxon norms of governance) the pressure was on to get to black rule quickly, which is what happened. The result is that blacks in Zimbabwe are now living with the consequences in a dystopic land.

Jack in Silver Spring

Anonymous said...

John, I take exception to one blogger trying to embarrass another.
“And perhaps Michelle O's comment about a mean country is in response to the attitude exhibited in Tarhell's post.”
As a blogger, I appreciate this place to express our opinions. What I don’t appreciate is one blogger’s left-hand smearing of a fellow blogger, based on his own so-called righteous opinion.

So Michelle Obama thinks American is mean. If I sat listening to Rev. Wright for twenty years, I would probably think that, and worse. However, I would not willingly listen to someone say GD- America, and in a church, NEVER. But, that’s just me.
That said, I enjoyed Danvers post very much, and appreciated the insights.

JWM said...


Thanks for a great comment.

I'll say more about it tomorrow on the main page.

To TH,

I don't know about the canabilism although I've heard some experts believe its occured.

What isn't in doubt is that in sub-Saharin, post-Colonial Africa there's been in the last half-century black-on-black slaughter with the number of killings variously estimated; and 3 million often cited as a reasonable estimate.

What a tragedy!

To RM,

You comment is revealing.

To JinSS,

From what I know you have the main points you mention right.

But there was a great deal more with the "liberal enlightened" West pushing the white government out of power even as that government insisted (rightly as it turned out) that with just one "popular election" the country wuld spiral into tribal warfare and chaos with brutal dictatorship the sure outcome.

But the West was too "humane" and "democratic" to agree to a gradual power-sharing, gradual build-up of a black middle class of professionals, government functionaries, etc.

More tomorrow.


Danvers said...

To Red Mountain:

I do not appreciate your endorsement of my post, or your comments in general.

In future please refrain!

Danvers said...


I forgot to mention that a good website (updated several times a day) to get you (or anyone else interested) up to speed on developments in Zimbabwe is:

It features worldwide press articles on the crisis; the archives are worthy of any university library worldwide.

Anonymous said...

RM: Would you care to identify anything I wrote that wasn't factual?
Tarheel Hawkeye