25 November 2008

The Times - Carter: Zim crisis unimaginable

Recently former US President Jimmy Carter, former UN Secretary Kofi Annan and Graca Machel were refused entry into Zimbabwe.

The Times - Carter: Zim crisis unimaginable:
Former US president Jimmy Carter today said the humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe appeared greater than he had feared, due to the country’s crumbling economy and failing health system.

Carter had planned to visited Zimbabwe last weekend with former UN secretary general Kofi Annan and rights activists Graca Machel, the wife of Nelson Mandela. But all three were turned away by President Robert Mugabe’s regime.

They had wanted to highlight the country’s humanitarian crisis, with half the population expected to need food aid and a cholera epidemic killing hundreds of people.

"Unimaginable" just about sums it up.

Over the last ten years or more we have watched helplessly as the rulers of Zimbabwe have systematically destroyed the country, and in effect waged war against their own people. It is hard to avoid the conclusion that this is Mugabe's petulant revenge against the people for failing to give him additional powers and presidency for life in a referendum. In revenge he took them anyway, and set out to bankrupt the country and destroy its infrastructure.

I can't think of any other country in the world where such a thing has happened. Well, maybe Pol Pot's Kampuchea, but no others. And Kampuchea lasted for a relatively short time. Zimbabwe's agony has gone on and on and on.

I think Jimmy Carter, Kofi Annan and Graca Machel are people of goodwill and considerable diplomatic experience. If they despair of a solution to the problems of Zimbabwe, what can the rest of us do?

South Africa has suffered because of Zimbabwe's problems, but we have also benefited in ways that we can't imagine. We have benefited from the skills and knowledge of Zimbabwean refugees. One day Mugabe will fall, and when that day comes many of them will return to rebuild their shattered country. They will leave behind a gap of skills and expertise that we barely appreciate. Are we prepared for that day?


Tauratinswe said...

Thabo Mbeki must take major responsibility for the state of Zimbabwe. He has shown remarkable complicity with Mugabe. I pray that current SA leadership will follow through with the strong talk they are now voicing and force Mugabe to enter a true power sharing government of national unity or relinquish power completely. Delay is Mugabe's main weapon for retaining and unifying power.

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