Thursday, December 4, 2008

When Will this Mugabe-Made Disaster End?

Dec. 6th. - The Archbishop of York has called on the international community to remove Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe from power as a deadly cholera outbreak continues to add to the woes of a country already devastated by hyperinflation and widespread destitution. Writing in The Observer on Sunday, Dr John Sentamu said that the power-sharing agreement between Mugabe’s Zanu PF party and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change was “dead”. He made a passionate plea to the international community “to bring an end to the charade of power-sharing” that has enabled Mugabe to remain in office. “The impasse within the South African-sponsored negotiations between the MDC and Zanu PF has been sustained by a Mugabe regime which is unwilling to give up power and refuses to recognise the rule of law,” he wrote.

Dr Sentamu compared the situation in Zimbabwe to that which he faced as a dissident in Uganda under Idi Amin before neighbouring Tanzania stepped in to oust the leader from power. “In Uganda, we were beaten, tortured, abused and hundreds were murdered, but never did we starve to death or see the level of suffering which is to be found in today’s Zimbabwe,” he said.

He said that Mugabe and his closest supporters must stand trial before The Hague for their crimes against the people of Zimbabwe. His call for Mugabe’s removal echoes a similar appeal from Archbishop Desmond Tutu last week for the Zimbabwean president to be removed by force if he refuses to go volutarily. Dr Sentamu said, “The time has come for Mugabe to answer for his crimes against humanity, against his countrymen and women and for justice to be done. “The winds of change that once brought hope to Zimbabwe and its neighbours have become a hurricane of destruction with the outbreak of cholera, destitution, starvation and systemic abuse of power by the state. “As a country cries out for justice, we can no longer be inactive to their call. Mugabe and his henchmen must now take their rightful place in The Hague and answer for their actions. “The time to remove them from power has come.”

Lusaka, Zambia:
“Yes, Zambia has problems – but thank God, we’re not Zimbabwe!” I’ve heard this remark several times recently and even repeated it myself. But I never appreciated its full meaning so much until I listened last week to several close Zimbabwean friends tell me about what they are experiencing these days in our neighbour to the south. They had come to a meeting in South Africa that I was attending, analysing the future of democracy in our region. They told me stories of terrible suffering and asked me not to forget them when I returned to Zambia. “Put Zambia’s problems in context – and shout about Zimbabwe’s problems,” they told me! My friends are Zimbabweans, very nationalistic; very patriotic; working for social needs of the people in church-related institutions. They can’t be accused of being British lackeys! Well, I was deeply moved by what they told me and so here are a few of my shouts. I ask you to hear these shouts and then yourselves ask the same questions I will ask at the end of this column.

Rigged politics

The news the past few days is that perhaps some power-sharing agreement has been reached between Mugabe’s ZANU-PF and Tsvangirai’s MDC. My friends warned me not to take too easily the “agreement” language and gestures. For what can you expect, they say, from a set of politicians who were defeated in March elections but rigged the results in order to have a run-off? And then when it was evident that the Ruling Party would also lose the run-off in May, they launched a terrorist campaign that crowded out the opposition from any “free and fair” chance of repeating their March victory. Were the March elections “rigged” to deny the MDC a victory? Simply ask what happened to the vote count from the results posted immediately outside polling stations (like we had here in Zambia for the 30 October elections). Independent observers state that Tsvangirai received more than the required 50 percent of votes, certainly more than the 47.9 percent awarded to him after a one month – yes, that is one month! – delay to announce “official” results. Mugabe and his friends – including commanders of the armed forces - have publicly made it quite clear that they will never accept any popular election results that go against the “sovereignty” established by the “liberation war.” That “sovereignty” is embodied in Mugabe himself. Hence the manipulation of elections, the reneging on agreements, and the blaming of all criticism on former colonialists and their sympathisers!

Violent politics

While political disputes rage on, the effects of present and past violence corrodes any real sense of democracy. Who gives orders to arrest opposition leaders and sympathisers, to suppress popular demonstrations, to destroy homes and businesses in urban areas considered to be supportive of MDC, to unleash “war veterans” and youth militias against their fellow citizens? Intense fear is the order of the day. Understandably, this is what keeps ordinary citizens off the streets, since peaceful demonstrations are strictly forbidden. And when they are attempted, they are dealt with in a bloody fashion.

Collapsed economy

But even more widespread than the political violence adopted to maintain the current rulers in power is the economic and social violence perpetrated against the vast majority of the population. The Post newspaper of Zambia reported that the Governor of the Bank of Zimbabwe was this past week re-appointed (on what constitutional grounds, since no formal government has yet been mandated?) to preside over an official inflation rate of 231 million percent, but an unofficial and more realistic rate of 89.7 sextillion percent. That’s 89,000,000,000,000,000,000,000%!! The economy has almost completely come to a halt, and only major foreign currency is readily accepted. Severe shortages of basics like food and fuel are the order of the day. Electricity and water are turned off in Harare and elsewhere. Sewerage and garbage disposal has closed down, with the consequent frightening rise in cholera. Hunger is widespread as charitable agencies struggle to provide provisions for almost one-half the population in the months ahead. Hospitals and clinics face shortages of everything but patients, especially now as the cholera epidemic spreads (already over 400 deaths in the past several weeks). Educational institutions are not functioning, as teachers (those who have remained in the country) struggle for wages that wouldn’t even cover transport costs to get to their schools.

Deceitful denials

What makes the situation described above so very sad is that the persons in power, from Mugabe down, simply deny there are any problems in their country. At least not any problems that they could be blamed for! People really aren’t hungry or sick, the economic situation really isn’t that bad after all, and any political difficulties are the products of the imperialist/colonialists and their MDC puppets. So strong is the denial mode of operation that highly respected world figures like Jimmy Carter, Koffi Annan and Graca Michel could be turned away from a humanitarian visit on grounds that their visit was not only not necessary but was politically motivated to oppose Mugabe and friends. One can only wonder whether the leaders themselves believe the stories that they tell others. Do they go out into the urban compounds and rural wastelands and see, hear and smell the devastation they daily cause? Mansions and Mercedes may protect them from the tragic realities of their sister and brother Zimbabweans, but what about their consciences?

So what?

Ok, at this point the reader can ask me, so what difference does my shouting make and what could we do? For Zambia, the collapse of Zimbabwe is a disaster not only for the citizens of that sad country but also for us here, living in a country with some problems but overall a truly blessed country. So here are some questions we should ask – and look for some immediate answers!

1. What is the Zambian government’s official policy towards the increasing number of refugees fleeing here from our neighbour? Because of the cholera epidemic, will Zimbabweans continue to be turned away in Livingstone? What about the growing number of Zimbabwean women now selling (vegetables and themselves!) on the streets of Lusaka?

2. What is the response of the Zimbabwean High Commissioner in Lusaka to the analysis made here and elsewhere that challenges both the legitimacy and the morality of the current regime in power? Can the Commissioner explain why so many fellow citizens are fleeing into Zambia? Remember, this is Zambia, a country whose citizens sacrificed much in lives and prosperity to assist in the liberation struggle in Zimbabwe.

3. What is the stance of President Rupiah Banda toward the Zimbabwean crisis? Is there any part of the Mwanawasa “legacy” of courageous challenge that endures in his official position? Will he exercise moral leadership in the SADC region? So these are the shouts I promised my Zimbabwean friends. Any echoes here in Zambia?

By Peter Henriot SJ Director of the Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection, Lusaka, Zambia

Please forward this message (from Zimbabwe via South Africa) to one and all, especially your MP.

An SOS from Home - ZIMBABWE - PLEASE read and forward to as many people as you know.

Terrible, terrible things are taking place in Zimbabwe by the thugs that rule the place. The Internet is a powerful tool and the only way that this madman and his henchmen are going to be brought to justice is if the whole world gangs up on them and topples their evil bastion once and for all.

Please forward this everyone you know so it gets around the world in a few days.

Letter from Zimbabwe

I reckon that these are the last days of TKM and ZPF. The darkest hour is
always before dawn.

We are all terrified at what they are going to destroy next........I mean they are actually ploughing down brick and mortar houses and one family with twin boys of 10 had no chance of salvaging anything when 100 riot police came in with AK47's and bulldozers and demolished their beautiful house - 5 bedrooms and pine ceilings - because it was 'too close to the airport', so we are feeling extremely insecure right now.

You know - I am aware that this does not help you sleep at night, but if you do not know - how can you help? Even if you put us in your own mental ring of light and send your guardian angels to be with us - that is a help -but I feel so cut off from you all knowing I cannot tell you what's going on here simply because you will feel uncomfortable. There is no ways we can leave here so that is not an option.

I ask that you all pray for us in the way that you know how, and let me know that you are thinking of us and sending out positive vibes... that's all. You can't just be in denial and pretend/believe it's not going on. To be frank with you, it's genocide in the making and if you do not believe me, read the Genocide Report by Amnesty International which says we are - IN level 7 - (level 8 is after it's happened and everyone is in denial).

If you don't want me to tell you these things-how bad it is-then it means you have not dealt with your own fear, but it does not help me to think you are turning your back on our situation. We need you, please, to get the news OUT that we are all in a fearfully dangerous situation here. Too many people turn their backs and say - oh well, that's what happens in Africa

This Government has GONE MAD and you need to help us publicize our plight---or how can we be rescued? It's a reality! The petrol queues are a reality, the pall of smoke all around our city is a reality, the thousands of homeless people sleeping outside in 0 Celsius with no food, water, shelter and bedding are a reality. Today a family approached me, brother of the gardener's wife with two small children. Their home was trashed and they will have to sleep outside. We already support 8 adult people and a child on this property, and electricity is going up next month by 250% as is water.

How can I take on another family of 4 -----and yet how can I turn them away to sleep out in the open? I am not asking you for money or a ticket out of here - I am asking you to FACE the fact that we are in deep and terrible danger and want you please to pass on our news and pictures. So PLEASE don't just press the delete button! Help best in the way that you know how.

Do face the reality of what is going on here and help us SEND OUT THE WORD.. The more people who know about it, the more chance we have of the United Nations coming to our aid. Please don't ignore or deny what's happening.
Some would like to be protected from the truth BUT then, if we are eliminated, how would you feel? 'If only we knew how bad it really was we could have helped in some way'.

[I know we chose to stay here and that some feel we deserve what's coming to us]

For now,--- we ourselves have food, shelter, a little fuel and a bit of money for the next meal - but what is going to happen next? Will they start on our houses? All property is going to belong to the State now. I want to send out my Title Deeds to one of you because if they get a hold of those, I can't fight for my rights.

Censorship!----We no longer have SW radio [which told us everything that was happening] because the Government jammed it out of existence - we don't have any reporters, and no one is allowed to photograph. If we had reporters here, they would have an absolute field day. Even the pro-Government Herald has written that people are shocked, stunned, bewildered and blown mindless by the wanton destruction of many folks homes, which are supposed to be 'illegal' but for which a huge percentage actually do have licenses.

Please! - do have some compassion and HELP by sending out the articles and personal reports so that something can/may be done.

'I am one. I cannot do everything, ---but I can do something.. And because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do. What I can do, I should do. And what I should do, by the grace of God,
I will do.'

Please send this on to everyone in your address book. We send jokes out without blinking an eyelid. We don't get told this on the news in South Africa, we only get told what they want us to hear. We all have a chance to do something, even though the something is by pressing forward to as many people as possible. Let's stop talking and let's start doing! There is power in prayer, there is also power in more people knowing about this than you in my address book. This is going to America , Dubai , Australia , France , South Africans all over South Africa, the UK. By forwarding this to all in my address book I have done something. The world needs to know what is going on.

ZIMBABWE: Tell Mugabe to Go, Anglican Primate Asks AU

CAPE TOWN, December 5, 2008 ( CISA) -The African Union should declare publicly that Mugabe’s rule is illegitimate and that he must step aside, the head of the Anglican Church in the region has said. The AU should work speedily with the United Nations to set up a transitional government to take control in Zimbabwe, the primate of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa Archbishop Thabo Makgoba added. At the same time, the archbishop of Cape Town severely criticized the Southern African Development Community (SADC) for its “disgraceful” silence over the deepening crisis in Zimbabwe. The SADC, he said in a statement, has failed and is morally bankrupt.

“I am deeply pained by the terrible deterioration, disease and despair we are seeing in Zimbabwe,” the archbishop said, adding that there is “total collapse of governance in Zimbabwe, of which we see new evidence daily.” “But the silence of SADC leaders in general is disgraceful. Why throughout this crisis have we seen no evidence of public leadership from King Mswati III, chairperson of SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Co-operation? “He should not only be taking high-profile action on Zimbabwe, but needs to show that peace and democracy are possible in his own country. “Are SADC’s leaders not moved by the terrible human suffering in Zimbabwe? Where is their ubuntu? Must people be massacred in Zimbabwe’s streets before SADC will take firm, decisive and public action? Will they, even then? “No, SADC has failed and is morally bankrupt. President Mugabe has demonstrated again and again that he will not share power. He is no longer fit to rule.”

Former Anglican archbishop of Cape Town Desmond Tutu said Mugabe must resign or be sent to The Hague for the "gross violations" he has committed. The Nobel Prize winner told Dutch television that Mugabe should be removed by force if he refuses to go. He had ruined "a wonderful country", turning a "bread-basket" into a "basket case". On Thursday, Kenya's Prime Minister Raila Odinga said African governments should oust Zimbabwe's leader. "Power-sharing is dead in Zimbabwe and will not work with a dictator who does not really believe in power-sharing." US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has said it is "well past time" for Mugabe to go, saying a "sham election" has been followed by a "sham process of power-sharing talks".

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