What should Africa do about Zimbabwe?

June 18, 2008

rtx6x6w.jpgWhen Kenya played Zimbabwe in last Saturday’s World Cup qualifying game, the chant of “Mugabe must go” echoed around the stadium from some 36,000 Kenyan fans as Zimbabwe’s football team came onto the pitch.

Africa’s leaders have tended to take a much less vocal approach to Zimbabwe’s crisis.

Some are certainly starting to use tougher language – South African ANC leader Jacob Zuma told Reuters he did not expect a fair election on June 27, former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan wrote in the Financial Times that Zimbabwe was “tarnishing the reputation of Africa as a whole” and Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga has also spoken out.

Serving heads of state, South African President Thabo Mbeki among them, generally take a more cautious approach. Some say nothing at all.

Taking a tougher line on Zimbabwe has traditionally been difficult for countries in a region where President Robert Mugabe was widely seen as a hero of the struggle for independence.

But beyond the words – or lack of them — what should Africa do about Zimbabwe? Nobody really expects African states to use force and any sanctions could end up making the plight of Zimbabweans worse? Kofi Annan says it is time to get Zimbabwe’s leaders to talk to each other on resolving the crisis?

What do you think?

26 comments

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I think Mugabe has no problem at all with handling power: the question here is to who?
He s a freedom fighter who rescued the Zimbabwean people from the hands of the British colonialists and now giving power to MDC is to give it back to the same ones he got it from(British )as the are the ones behind the MDC.
Dont you see its like Mugabe will betray his people? What was the point of having the freedom and then he gives it back to the same people!
Thats my opinion

Posted by Wangui | Report as abusive

typical african leadership, too spineless to condemn their own kind, who are far worse than the previous white settlers. as usual south africa will watch and do nothing.

Posted by r.down | Report as abusive

There is no doubt there is going to be military confrontation in Zimbabwe unless Africa interjects. Mugabe has clearly stated the Zanu-PF stance – no handover of power. Without a handover of power millions will continue to suffer as the rest of the world will not assist a totally corrupt Zanu-PF dictatorial regime.

The best choice for Africa is to offer Mugabe and his senior cohorts exile elsewhere on the continent with protection from prosecution. In line with that Africa needs to lobby for aid from the international community to rebuild the economy and show the rest of Zanu’s supporters that they can flourish without Mugabe. A peace-keeping force should be deployed for a period of time to prevent a military coup.

Otherwise increasingly desperate people will start killing each other. And that would be another human tragedy of unthinkable proportion. Do not think Zimbabwe cannot go the way of other states that descended into horrific protracted civil war. What would the neighbouring states do then? Whatever it was, it would be too late.

Posted by Gavin O'Leary | Report as abusive

One thing is certain, the whole region has become less and less stable since the departure of FW DeKlerk

Posted by Jonny Rotten | Report as abusive

If the African nations do nothing then in the end investment in the region will dry up. Stopping the electricity from South Africa would be a good start – I think the time for talking is over.

Posted by charlie robertson | Report as abusive

Citizen Robert Mugabe must be taken into custody by the united nation and charged with treason to his people. If there was oil in that country it would then have been a different situation. He is doing exactly the same as Sadam Husein

Posted by Adriaan van Niekerk | Report as abusive

Robert Apegabe is a burden to his country. He is a burden to his people. I stand corrected. He is a burden to the people of Zimbabwe. Is is a burden on the whole world. While aid is delivered to the Zimbabweans, Mugabe collects. What makes him so special in Zimbabwe? Its time the masse of Zimbabwe take action instead of fleeing to neighbouring countries. After all. The inocent people of Zimbabwe are by far more than his cronies.

Posted by Adriaan van Niekerk | Report as abusive

What should Africa do about Zimbabwe? The answer to that is simple enough; tell Mugabe and his henchmen in no uncertain terms that what they are doing is unacceptable. The people of Zimbabwe themselves should have told him that years ago. Why did they?

Mugabe has been in office for nearly thirty years now and throughout those years he never ever held free and fair elections. His popularity has fallen over the years just like the Zimbabwe dollar; slowly at first and has gather pace and volume in the last few years to the frightening torrent it is today. Riots broke out in many parts of the world because food prices had gone up two digit percentage figures in the last two months. In Zimbabwe you queue to buy an item (glad to have found something to buy – there is a chronic shortage of food, fuel, medicines, everything) and when you turn at the till finally you find the price has doubled! That is what a 165 000% inflation rate means. Yet the people of Zimbabwe have never ever held a peaceful protest let alone riot. Why?

I am a black Zimbabwean and also speak as, of course, an African. It is simply NOT in our African blood to speak against our elders or those in position of power and authority. A cultural weakness that African leaders have exploited to the full! Mugabe is but an extreme case of that.

There are over fifty individual countries in Africa. How many of them are truly democratic? I rest my case!

Among the leadership themselves of course they are reluctant to criticise each other. It would be a case of the pot calling the pan black.

Africa’s greatest chance to get out of this comatose state was when the continent had an African as Secretary General of the UN. The UN is the international body that has justice, human rights and the respect for human life- values dictators like Mugabe flout with impunity. The UN speaks with authority on these matters and an African Secretary General speaking to his fellow African leader would have had even greater weight. Africa has had two UN Secretary Generals and came and went and the continent did not move an inch towards becoming a more just and free people. Indeed the continent’s dictators even thrived during Africa’s turn heading the UN.

So there is a lot the Zimbabweans themselves, the Africans people across the continent, Africa National Leaders, Africa Regional Leaders and/or Africa Continental Leaders can do and should to stop the madness of Mugabe. The reality is; none of all these people are doing anything, period! Even getting any of them to TALK about it (or any of Africa’s life and death stories) seems to be a mammoth task- as you can see!

Posted by Wilbert Mukori | Report as abusive

Wangui
I don’t for moment relieve that the MDC is a front for the British. That is Zanu propaganda & you are accepting it without looking at the reality.
Was Mugabe the leader the country needed? 25 plus years ago the answer might have been “yes” But times have changed & so too has the man, Mugabe today is not the hero that Africa believed in, had hopes for. Just look at the last 20 years in Zimbabwe, what you are seeing is the work of Mugabe, not the British, not the white farmers. This is the work of Zimbabwe’s hero who turned bad. It happens & perhaps it happens because we want to believe in heroes. Maybe Africa & Zimbabwe in particular were asking too much & still are.
African leaders will do nothing about Zimbabwe because there but for the grace of their god go they, & they know it. They see in Zimbabwe the road that they might one day have to travel, let him without sin throw the first stone, so no stones are going to be thrown.

If mugabe and the cronies are allowed to stay in office the vast majority of people in Zim will suffer fates similar to those disasters that have occured in Rwanda, Somalia and Sudan all countries that once could have been succesful. The time to stop it is now and as the British imposed Mugabe on the people of Zim knowing already he got to the top by murder and tyranny thirty years back they should get rid of him. A simple way of doing this would be to destroy, the airforce, military hardware , police hardware in a sustained three day air attack with if possible no loss of life. Then get the opposition political parties to get their people which would be more than 90% of the population to walk onto the streets and claim their Zimbabwe back.Even if this was not 100% succesful it would certainly change the situation and be a catalyst to prevent what will inevitably happen if nothing is done.So what if Britain is condemned by a few African countries there will be many who will praise them never mind the eternal thanks from 12 million Zimbabweans.

Posted by Ant Donohoe | Report as abusive

The heart of the problem in Zimbabwe is in fact – ironically,since this is how he justifies his and his party’s existence – outside intervention. Robert Mugabe receives quiet support from certain neighbors on the continent who fear the precedent of being toppled by popular opposition – including members of the AU, unfortunately – and various international entities that make money out of Zimbabwe through the current regime.
It is almost comical. There are states in the region that are publicly making noises about denouncing Junta-style crackdowns and violence against opposition while their embassies in Harare are quietly dealing the other way as per their governments’ instructions.
I am afraid with Mugabe’s current attitude, violence is unavoidable. But for this to be as minimal as possible then the outside world has to either UNITE with one policy against the current regime – using a globally acknowledged and recognized body such as the AU or UN and NOT following the US example in Iraq – or at least stop interfering on Mugabe’s behalf providing him with the means of survival and wait while his failed policies inevitably push his regime to extinction, even if this means some more time of Mugabe’s rule. Admittedly the second option is bad news for people in Zimbabwe, but unfortunately the reality is that a lot of foreign intervention is only prolonging their plight.

According to this report, Mbeki has urged Mugabe to cancel the vote and start talking to Tsvangirai about a unity government:

http://africa.reuters.com/country/ZW/new s/usnBAN928157.html

Posted by Matthew Tostevin | Report as abusive

It was really beautiful hearing the ordinary voices chanting in consolidation with their african brothers but also saddened by other like Wangui who totally ignore the black and white scenario happenning in Zimbabwe. If Zimbabwe is suffering undera regime then the regime should hand over power to suitable persons and not rebrand the group as liberators. Yes they liberated the country but it doesn’t give them the liberty to run the country to ruins and complete oppression and still call yourself a democracy.

Posted by Ephraim Muchemi | Report as abusive

Well this is Africa, all African leaders tink they own their countries cause we fought for our liberation when they were our leaders. Name one African who has handed power to an oppositon party without him fighting for his position.There is none.

Posted by Noe | Report as abusive

Point of correction to the first comment. There is no british party in zimbabwe. The party members are zimbabweans regardless of race. I am a black africa and i strongly believe in 100% independence. Mugabe has no interests of zimbabweans at heart. Its sad to learn that he has turned brother against brother to kill one another. Open your eyes beloved Africa, you children are crying blood tears under a self-centred and selfish man who ruined an economy to shreds. I appreciate all sympathizers with the people of zimbabwe, we know we are not alone in our fight for total independence. Let me just iron one fact that Africa might not be aware of, when the coloniser came, they bundled blacks into reserves(baren lands) while the shared the prime land amongst themselves. The freedom fighters were villagers tired of living in the same reserves. Now here is our beloved president, he takes the farms from whites and does he resettle the people in the reserves? Not even a single reserve villager has benefited from the land redistribution. In a nut-shell, Mr Mugabe violates himself. The land belongs to the people like they used to live before the colonial master came. Those people need their land back, they need to leave the reserves. Mugabe has not done that, instead we have an ‘Animal Farm’ scenario where the land has fallen into the hands of a few greedy men with no idea of feeding a nation, no idea of farming at all. We continue to fight for freedom even from our own black master.

Posted by crying zimbabwean | Report as abusive

Bash, instill “violent” fear, cause instability, sway men, woman and youth by making them believe that death and violence awaits anyone who votes MDC. This is the real life of ordinary serfs not the polite politics of rich, well-dined African politicians.

Posted by Barthol | Report as abusive

All MDC supporters are required to record the serial numbers of the vote forms they used and hand this over to Zanu-PF in order for ZanuPF to confirm that they voted for ZanuPF and not for MDC. The only African comfort exists in the educated, suburbed, German-car- driving lifes of expensive clothed African(not just Zimbabwean) politicians and their families. All blacks are not equal some blacks are are more equal than others.

Posted by Barthol | Report as abusive

Kofi Annan say some should get Zimbabwean leaders to talk! Lol. Talk about what. There is nothing to talk about. Mugabe must step down. Simple.He has failed. We must understand that the measure of a leader is what he does in times of trouble. Mugabe has proved he is not a good leader and has never been. As for African leaders they must zip their lips because this has been going on for a long time, they never said anything. The damage the old man has done to Zimbabwe and Africa as a whole is shameful. We have a bunch of leaders who think like Mugabe in Africa. All they know is to rig election and then blame their failer to bring positive economic reforms on the Colonial past. Africa needs educated leaders and not what used to be freedom fighters. The era of fighting for freedom is over, now is the time for economic progress. If a leader cannot deliver,let him save his sorry face and step down without hurting his country’s economy.Simple. No need to waste time negotiating. We all saw what negotiations can do. Kofi Annan gave power to a guy who rigged elections in Kenya. That’s the fruit of African negotiations. Injustice.

Posted by Pule Nong | Report as abusive

If Africa has failed to send peace observers in Zim to maintain a peacefull campaign, then what the need of sending observers?, I wish MDC could wirdraw last minute and the observers , observe nothing but ten pple queuing to vote.

Posted by Noe | Report as abusive

I strongly believe that Africa must (a) tell Britain and the USA to mind their own business and for starters (b) tell the MDC to be African both in deed and outlook (c) Ask Tsvangirai and his team to respect African solutions to the Zimbabwe standoff and if the above prevails then the two parties can dailogue. At present MDC is suffering from identity confusion and thrives on further strangulation of the people of zimbabwe. This will not be acceptable to many Zimbabweans as shall be seen on the 27th of June runoff.

Posted by Togarepi pupurai | Report as abusive

It’s utter nonsense saying that letting MDC rule is giving back the country to Westerner. Tsvangirai is a Zimbabwean. He is not from a western country.He wants change for his country. The same way Mugabe wanted change when he ran for the position 28 years ago.Other Coutries have elections every 4 years or whenever they do it. People should be free to vote for who ever they want. All this violence going on is a shame, that he will kill his own people. At his age now , he should give it up and enjoy his last days on this earth, because his days are numbered and he is definitely headed for hell.This whole power and money greed is a shame. May God have mercy on Mugabe and his followers, because their judgement day is coming and it’s going to be worse than the pain he has been inflicting on the people he claims to care about.

Britain and America should end these cruel economic sanctions on Zimbabwe.

I know white farmers will rush in to say that only “targeted sanctions” exist. This is a lie, British/BBC propaganda. The people of Zim are suffering because of economic sanctions imposed by the USA in 2001 via the ZIDERA legislation (google it and see for yourselves).

Britain and America are strangling the Zim economy because of a few greedy, racist, black farmers who never accepted majority black rule.

As much as I believe that Mugabe should step down, he must not hand over to the MDC, who are stooges of Britain and its white farmers. The best solution is a unity/transition government withiout interference from Britain.

If white farmers are not happy to live peacefully like all other Zimbabweans, they should go back to Britain.

Lift the cruel sanctions and let Africans/Zimbabweans solve their own problems.

Kudos to Mbeki for refusing to allow former colonial masters (the evil supporters of the evil apartheid regime he fought against) to push him around over the Zimbabwe issue.

Posted by Vincent | Report as abusive

I don’t know what the fuss is all about for people to say “white farmers rushing in to settle”. I see no problem with them choosing to settle in Africa -just like many Africans have settled in Europe or America. I believe the issue should only arise if they acquire the land illegally and the people (Africans) remain homeless.
There is alot of land in this continent and alot of space in this world there is enough room for everyone everywhere the issue is people don’t want to
share/allocate it properly.

Back to Zimbabwe, Wangui i beg to differ with you when you say Mugabe will have betrayed his people by handing over to MDC which will be like handing back to the Europeans!
During this time he has been in power. What good has he done? hasn’t he betrayed the people more? havent they jumpt to abnormal inflation figures, haven’t they slept hungry and acted like refugees?
What is the purpose of the AU isn’t it to unify Africa and help solve such issues when they occur?
Why are the African leaders silent, is there something more to this than we the public see?
Look into history when there was dictatorship who solved the problem? it wasn’t the Americans, European or the leaders it was the people! when they had enough they had enough and they acted on that.

As africans we need to realise the capacity we have is beyond our own utilisation in this life time. We need to understand the power we have.
We like blaming the Europeans and Americans but truth be told we are also to blame!

Most of the countries surrounding Zimbabwe and through africa have been through a civil war after they have gained their independence from colonial rule. This seems the way of Africa. It also seems like the way of the leaders that cling to power once they gain independence.

If this is to be prevented and a free and fair election is to be held in Zimbabwe it is not only the responsibility of the SADC leaders but also the international community to intervene. Clearly the people of Zimbabwe have no real say in their future, Mugabe has seen to that. Surely, nobody in their right mind would vote for the situation to continue.

Please lock Mugabe in a room as ask him what he needs to give up power and step aside. For the sake of the people.

As for the villain’s that are running around beating and killing people in the name of ZANU PF, what are you gaining out of the situation. Have we not grown past the middle ages mentality.

Posted by Michael | Report as abusive

Most people talking about Mugabe giving up power are not sincere at all. Africa is a confused continent and Zinbabwe is part of that confusion.Many zimbabweans do support what Mugabe is doing. Some want him to step down while others want him to die in office. A lot of African leaders see nothing wrong in Mugabe keeping power even after decades of doing so. If the people of Zimbabwe have enough of him they really know how to get him out dead or alive.
Getting Mugabe out of power or getting power out of him is no problem, the big problem is who would take that power and do something better than what Mugabe is doing now. But is Mugabe really bad or majority of Zimbabweans are sick like their Nigerian counterpart?

Posted by Heady | Report as abusive

Mugabe’s problems started when he took land from the white farmers and gave it to the poor Africans the rightful owners thats why the British are againist him.
But here in Africa we love Mugabe and we are tired of the Invaders making decisions for us as though we are still in the 1st century.
thank you Britain for colonising us but dont you think it is high time you left Africa to solve Africa’s problems in Africa’s way.
Tsvangirai is a British puppet and puppets belong in the circus and certainly not in power.