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Free Zimbabwe

Written By: - Date published: 6:36 am, June 25th, 2008 - 78 comments
Categories: International - Tags: , ,

There is no longer any hope the union-led Movement for Democratic Change can remove Mugabe from power peacefully. Now, his thugs are killing MDC supporters, union leaders have been arrested, and the regime is moving to break the organised labour. This is typical behaviour of a regime moving into totalitarianism the unions represent the largest political organisations outside of the State, as such, they are a barrier to absolute State power and must be eliminated. Things are shaping up to get much worse in Zimbabwe if Mugabe stays in power.

Military action seems to be the only option left. A smart campaign could be conducted relatively bloodlessly but it would have to be led by South Africa, the only country in the region with the standing and the military might to carry out such an action. And South Africa is showing no will to act.

A third of Zimbabwe’s population has left for South Africa, creating social unrest. South Africa’s unions have stood by the people of Zimbabwe against Mugabe; South African workers have refused to unload a shipment of Chinese arms bound for Mugabe’s regime. Yet, the South African government continues to protect Mugabe and refuses to act against him. The ANC is still unwilling to turn against a man who led an African freedom movement against white oppression.

It is time for South Africa’s leaders to face the face that their old ally has become the enemy they once fought against. It’s time for South Africa to remove him from power, and New Zealand should offer its support.

78 comments on “Free Zimbabwe ”

  1. Your up early this morning Steve ?

  2. Yep it’s time to get over ‘colonialism’ and take action to protect the innocent.

  3. T-rex 3

    I’ve been thinking the same thing.

    I’d completely support NZ involvement. Doesn’t it require a UN mission to be approved though? China will presumably veto it, as always. What’s the solution?

    Pressure China? They’re already in the bad books after conduct in Tibet – if they’re seen to be supporting a violent dictator for the sake of mineral rights then it will make global perceptions heading into the olympics pretty terrible.

    Like “boycott” terrible.

    Secondary alternative – assassinate Mugabe. He’s an immoral f*ck who’s displaced/killed thousands of people for personal gain, the world would be far better off without him. I guess it might not do much for internal stability…
    Actually maybe that’d work. Charge him with crimes against humanity in the international court.

  4. It was interesting to hear Zuma distancing the ANC from Zanu-PF this morning. Mugabe is a madman, and the international community MUST finally do something. I completely agree that South Africa should be at the forefront of any such action – Thabo Mbeke’s indifference to date has not been the response that a leader of his standing should have exhibited.

  5. T-rex 5

    While we’re at it – let’s look to our own backyard.


  6. where are the so called guardians of social justice the Greens on this issue

    oh yes that right its not China America or Israel, its one of their socialist heroes a fighter for black African rights

    their silence condemns them

  7. Lew 7

    I’ve said my piece about unilateral action over on Poneke, so I won’t repeat it here. Suffice to say that I think unilateral military intervention is a local benefit traded off against a global cost and is ultimately deleterious to world peace. Nothing to do with colonialism.

    I entirely agree that all other sorts of pressure should be brought to bear, however, and preventing the importation of arms into Zimbabwe is a good start.

    T-rex: Fiji is a difference in kind – not in degree – from Zimbabwe. Which isn’t to say it’s good, just that they can’t be bracketed (yet).


  8. T-rex 8

    Lew – I want international law too, which is why I mentioned the UN above. Positive to see that the security council has finally taken a unanimous stance against Mugabe.

    I liked both your and Serum’s posts.

    I’m not advocating unilateral action, just NZ’s involvement in multilateral action.

    Nor am I advocating going in and shooting everyone. Just going in and overseeing a fair election and the transfer of power thereafter. Although that sounds like Iraq in a way…

    What’s the difference in Fiji? I thought it WAS just a matter of degree. Dissenters are imprisoned/killed, no free speech, no democratically elected government. Power siezed by Military coup (Mugabe first came to power in an election characterised by violence and intimidation… 28 years ago… so much for change from within). Foreign journalists arrested and tortured.
    So not even really a matter of degree, just scale.

    Topical much?

  9. MikeE 9

    I suggest bringing int he private sector…

    Bring on our buddies at blackwater inc.

  10. coge 10

    “The boys cry out for war” Have you lot forgotten the bush wars?
    Two wrongs don’t make a right. Which bloodbath do you prefer?
    MikeE has the best solution though, contract it out, efficiency at a fixed price. Mercenaries did a much better job of keeping the peace in Sierra Leone than the UN ever did.

  11. Matthew Pilott 11

    Mbeki has shat in his own nest. He supports one of the anti-colonialism heroes of yesteryear, despite the blazingly obvious, and the recent riots in South Africa have shown what a great idea it is to support a neighbouring tyrant.

    Hopefully that will spur him into action, nothing else has.

    SP: New Zealand should offer its support. Not it is support.

    MikeE – why not send in the Gurkhas for some real irony?

  12. higherstandard 12


    I agree 100%.

    Sadly I expect the relevant powers (UN, SADC and South Africa) to spend several months wringing their hands and putting out press releases while Zimbabwe descends further into chaos.

    A tragedy that a country which was once relatively wealthy, vibrant and served as the bread basket of southern africa is being raped by a man who appears to be either insane or perhaps just plain evil.

  13. slightlyrighty 13

    I have had the opportunity to discuss Zimbabwe with a high profile NZ’er with more than a passing interest in Human rights issues regarding that part of the world. I will not name him for his own privacy and because the comments made were not for the public. Suufice it to say he is well known and often contacted by the media on this issue.

    This person would be regarded as a liberal, left leaning gentleman. In his opinion, Mugabe needs a bullet.

    If you can, there are 2 books that anyone interested in Zimbabwe and the politics of the country should read. Both are by the same author, Peter Godwin. They are ‘Mukiwa, a white boy in Africa’ and ‘When a Crocodile eats the Sun’

  14. Skeptic 14

    So multilateral military action to remove a dictatorial, murderous, oppressive, corrupt regime that operates at the expense of its own citizens who are fleeing the terror, is justified?

    I happen to agree. It’s a pity that you, Steve, aren’t consistent. Because Saddam was many degrees worse than Mugabe. Yet you were opposed to multilateral military action in Iraq.

  15. Lew 15

    T-rex: Dinosaur Comic for the win!

    I think Fiji could turn into a Zimbabwe, but it isn’t there yet. There are as yet only isolated reports of military or police brutality and in general it’s not clear it’s sanctioned – it could simply be the result of a lack of oversight of the forces. I tend to take a cautious line on such things – yes, abuses are bad, but overreaction tends to be worse. Let’s see how things slice after election day. Happily, multilateral diplomatic and political pressure is being brought to bear on Fiji in a way it hasn’t been in Zimbabwe.

    Matthew: I agree entirely about Mbeki. He missed his chance to join the political first world.


  16. higherstandard 16


    The largest mistake on the Iraq front was that the coalition didn’t remove (assassinate) Saddam during/just after the Kuwait conflict.

    Disagree that Saddam was worse than Mugabe.

    He was an evil dictator absolutely, but the Iraq economy wasn’t the basket case that Zimbabwe is, the population was educated and there was reasonable healthcare and food for the population.

    slightlyrightly – CL is correct on the bullet front

  17. coge. That some military actions are wrong does not mean all military actions are wrong.

    I think Fiji would be another kettle of fish to Zimbabwe as a military campaign. Fiji has a very experienced army, thanks to it’s practice of having 1000 on UN peacekeeping duty (paid for by us and Aussie) at any one time (until the recent coup). The army is the size of New Zealand’s and it’s an island. Plus any invading force would be mostly white.

    Zimbabwe is land-locked so military supplies can be cut off for an extended period to bleed the military, which is only 35,000 strong and has out-dated equipment. A campaign of bribery and intimidation could be used to turn individual commanders and units, or at least persuade them not to fight – that worked very well in Iraq against Saddam’s army, something like 80% didn’t fight. Any actual invasion would be led by South African units comprised primarily of troops from regions near Zimbabwe and would be cast as an aid mission for the Zimbabweian people with the ability to protect itself.

    UN approval under the responsability to protect would be preferable.

    I see Zuma has turned on Mugabe, finally.

  18. Lew 18

    I too disagree that Hussein was worse than Mugabe. His abuses were arguably as brutal, but his economy was functioning and what shortages existed were largely due to sanctions. Which doesn’t excuse his regime, of course.


  19. T-rex 19


    I don’t think the two are the same. The initial military action in Iraq was
    1) Unilateral
    2) Specifically NOT authorised by the UN
    3) Based on a premise that had little/no supporting evidence, and turned out to be a load of sh*t
    4) In a more difficult area

    I’m trying to come up with a useful response to your points on borrowing for infrastructure btw. It’s an interesting debate. I’m a huge believer in technology, unlike Lynn, but I don’t think it’s a good idea to get mired in debt buying the latest and greatest, or that such action is necessary to remain competitive. I bought my laptop with cash, not credit, and I didn’t buy the latest and greatest one. Technology (especially power and communications) is evoloving too fast these days to invest in something like a 10 year plan to put in fibre optics. It’d probably be redundant before they were halfway complete. Change by small increments.

    As to borrowing in general… actually I’m getting off thread and ahead of myself, will reply when I’ve got time.

    [lprent: I will intrude directly on the comment here as I must have missed this earlier.

    I’m a great believer in technology. I’m just skeptical about relying on vapourware. That is technology that you don’t have in your hand right now at the right cost. Relying on vapourware is a sign of terminal optimism.]

  20. higherstandard 20


    Not so sure that military supplies could be easily cut off with China able to ship arms via friendly states such as Mozambique.

  21. T-rex 21

    Slightly righty – $10bucks on Gareth Morgan.

    Maybe not. However I’m sure he’d feel the same way.

    Though I seriously doubt he’d be shy about it!

  22. Skeptic. I would have been all for removing Saddam from power if it hadn’t been blindingly obvious that the invasion would descend into the mess we have now. Hundresd of thouands dead, endless terrorism, a civil war in waiting, and a strategic power shift towards Iran were simply not worth the gain of getting rid of Saddam.

    Zimbabwe still has a State structure indpendent of ZANU-PF and an organsied civil society, including unions. That means there would be no need for an invading force to impose it’s own government, and would lessen the liklihood of ethnic strife.

  23. Tane 23

    where are the so called guardians of social justice the Greens on this issue… their silence condemns them

    You fool. The Greens have been speaking out on Zimbabwe for years – and unlike the other parties they didn’t sit on their hands and wait for Mugabe to start shooting people en masse before speaking up.



  24. Steve: “That some military actions are wrong does not mean all military actions are wrong.”

    Absolutely. People like Mugabe only understand military force.

  25. T-rex 25

    Lew – on Fiji.

    I think it could to. Would prefer intervention before then, but like Clinton says it could well be a lot harder. I’m not so sure though.

  26. As much as I agree that Mugabe needs to be removed from power, once again I find the left to be hypocritical in terms of a call for war. How many people have this sicko Mugabe killed compared to that sicko Saddam?

    They are both bad men, but the left cant see that.

  27. T-rex 27

    Zimbabwe – I’d prefer threat of force rather than force to begin with. International force holds fair election.

    And yes, Mugabe is either insane or evil – in either case shoot him first. Might be able to reason with whoever’s to follow.

  28. coge 28

    Steve, I sense we can both be arm-chair generals in this situation.
    Would you wish to send your son to this confused & uncertain situation?
    Mugabe, like it or not is a very accomplished guerilla strategist & leader. The tasks demanded of any invasion would be unclear, as would the situation on the ground.

    Sadly, I can see no easy solution, military or otherwise. It’s funny how some western leaders are expecting SA to sort it out. Those leaders wish to be seen doing something, when all they offer are words. As the Chinese say, they wish to kill with a borrowed sword.

    Maybe the best way would be to wait for Mugabe to keel over, & then seize the moment.

  29. T-rex 29

    They are both bad men, but the left cant see that.

    Brett you retard. Try reading the comments before you open your mouth and let the wind blow your tongue around.

  30. djp 30

    Imo military intervention is a bad idea.

    My prediction would be another Afghanistan or Iraq (a power vacuum that is filled by yet another warlord).

  31. Lew 31

    coge: “Maybe the best way would be to wait for Mugabe to keel over, & then seize the moment.”

    This was my position on Hussein. I think the case for Zimbabwe is stronger, but not so much stronger as to justify invasion. That said, if a police action to uphold rule of law were sanctioned by the UN in Zimbabwe, I think it would work, where it wouldn’t have done in Iraq.


  32. Brett. We all know Saddam was a bad man. Unfortunately, in the real world that can’t be the only basis for deciding whether overthrowing him by force is the right decision. You have to consider what other effects your actions will have – look at Iraq now, all the deaths an destruction, look at the shifting strategic balance in the Middle East – the invasion inevitably caused these things, and that is the reason many on the left opposed the invasion, not any lack of ill-will towards Saddam.

  33. Trex: Thanks for sharing.

    My point being, the left wants Mugabe gone, and some are suggesting military action, but they seem to be fine with Castro, Saddam and certain other dictators in power.

  34. Tane 34

    Brett, the operative word in your sentence is “seem”. You are mistaken. The Left (or at least the Left I am part of) don’t support dictators – socialism is about democracy – we just don’t have your simplistic, black and white view of the world.

  35. Lew 35

    I must say that, Brett’s trite partisan politicking aside, I’m heartened to see such consensus and reasoned debate on this issue from folks on both sides. I guess it’s easy to unite in the face of such crimes.


  36. T-rex 36

    Brett – Thanks for the clarification – I completely misunderstood you!

    Steve’s point above, made with admirable tolerance, outlines the ACTUAL issue.

    Your point shows about as much insight as if I were to say “everyone on the right are war-mongonering xenophobes”

    Anyone who is a repressive Dictator is an asshole. It’s really easy to spot, and I doubt there are many on the left who’d argue the point (though obviously many would disagree on the solution).

  37. Matthew Pilott 37

    Brett, someone from the ‘left’ (and, gratifyingly, across the spectrum) would call for intervention not because someone is a dictator, but based upon how they treat their citizens. If they are reasonable at providing the necessities of life and encourage economic growth and opportunity, then most would say it’s not with the price of an intervention.

    Despite all the bad that Hussein, and Castro have prevailed upon (the two are in a different boat, however, and you know it) the social cost of intervention will be more than the cost of not acting.

    Not so when you look at Zimbabwe – it already is a catastrophe. Intervention would possibly be an improvement (and I’d like to mention Myanmar here…)

    I’d argue the case for removal of Pinochet over Castro on that front. But whatever I called for, I’d take close interest in whether suffering would be increased – you don’t remove a dictator for the sake of it, you do so for the sake of people suffering under them, which is why I think you have missed the point so badly here.

  38. T-rex 38

    Well put Matt.

    I think I need a time out, I can’t even be bothered making structured arguments anymore, the moment I see something stupid I just lash out.

    Glad I’m not a teacher.

    See y’all in a week or so.

  39. Pascal's bookie 39

    I’m heartened to see such consensus and reasoned debate on this issue from folks on both sides


    I’m going to quote Obama’s statement in full, as I think he hits the right notes. All emphasis mine:

    “I am deeply disturbed by the recent events in Zimbabwe and condemn the actions of President Robert Mugabe in the strongest possible terms. The United States and the international community must be united, clear and unequivocal: the Government of Zimbabwe is illegitimate and lacks any credibility.

    “I welcome yesterday’s United Nations Security Council statement condemning the violence sweeping Zimbabwe, and underscoring that the Zimbabwean government’s campaign of repression and brutality has made it impossible for the June 27 elections to be free and fair. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is absolutely right when he says that run-off elections under these circumstances would lack any legitimacy.

    “Indeed, it is the result of the abrogated March 2008 elections that represents the genuine will of the Zimbabwean people. I have spoken with MDC Leader Morgan Tsvangirai to share my deep concern for the way his supporters are being targeted by the regime, and to express my admiration for his efforts to ensure that the will of the Zimbabwean people is finally respected.

    “The people of Zimbabwe have suffered far too long. They live in fear and struggle to survive, as opposition supporters and leaders, civil society activists, and ordinary citizens are subject to harassment, torture, and murder. The government-orchestrated economic catastrophe has wrought run-away inflation and food and fuel shortages. The regime’s deliberate disruption of humanitarian operations has left the Zimbabwean people in utter despair. This crisis is affecting the entire Southern African region and mars the vision of a more just, prosperous, and stable continent to which African leaders are committed.

    “I am heartened by the growing chorus of African leaders supporting the civil and political rights of the Zimbabwean people. The Governments of Zambia, Botswana, Tanzania, Angola, Senegal, Kenya and South Africa’s African National Congress (ANC), civil society leaders and trade unions have all denounced the Zimbabwean government’s repression. But they must do much more to help prevent the crisis in Zimbabwe from spiraling out of control. In particular, the South African government and the ANC must recognize the need and must call for the kind of diplomatic action that is necessary to pressure the Zimbabwean government to stop its repressive behavior.

    “The United States should work with regional leaders and others to press for postponed elections conducted under a strong international monitoring presence and, to the extent possible, meaningful civil protection measures. If fresh elections prove impossible, regional leaders backed by the international community should pursue an enforceable, negotiated political transition in Zimbabwe that would end repressive rule and enable genuine democracy to take root. Finally, the United States must tighten our existing sanctions, just as the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the African Union (AU), and the UN should implement a carefully crafted regime of targeted sanctions against Zimbabwean officials who continue to thwart democracy and undermine the rule of law.”

    Follow through would be the thing, as always.

  40. Matthew Pilott 40

    T-rex – save the anger for the campaign… heh. And ignore the more ridiculous comments, someone will come along and give them what they deserve – it doesn’t always have to be you!

  41. Hi, I’m South African and posted a response in my blog but I don’t seem to have the whole trackback thing worked out yet.

    Anyway, my main point is with regards to the South African National Defence Force being able to conduct a ‘relatively bloodless’ military campaign into Zim.

    Our military undoubtedly has a technological advantage and superior numbers, but our training and experience in actual warfare (let alone bush warfare) is seriously lacking at the moment. We’ve just had different priorities the last 10 years and our military has suffered as a result of it.

    Most of the men who had the experience to pass on to the younger soldiers were ejected out of the military or left of their own accord. But that is part of a greater problem in SA for a rant in a whole other post.

    The Zanu-PF have veteran fighters who must not be underestimated, especially on their home soil. The Zimbabwe National Army also still has a fair share of decent military hardware with which they can counter our technological advantage, regardless of the shipment we stopped in Durban.

    Otherwise a great post. I must agree that non-violence seems to be a tactic that is only adopted by the opposition at the moment and it has obviously not been working. I just had to add the the cost of life in a military campaign must not be underestimated.

  42. Lew 42

    Extremist: This is an important consideration. What of a police action, though – a multilateral law and order campaign staffed mostly by SA military personnel? Or would it eventually become much the same thing?


  43. slightlyrighty 43

    I will say that I have never met Gareth Morgan……

  44. James Kearney 44

    This just in:

    Tsvangirai confirmed the need for peacekeepers in comments made to British newspaper The Guardian.

    “We do not want armed conflict, but the people of Zimbabwe need the words of indignation from global leaders to be backed by the moral rectitude of military force,” Tsvangirai wrote in Wednesday’s edition of the British newspaper The Guardian.

    “Such a force would be in the role of peacekeepers, not troublemakers. They would separate the people from their oppressors and cast the protective shield around the democratic process for which Zimbabwe yearns.”


  45. MacDoctor 45

    The options available for Zimbabwe are currently all very poor:

    Diplomacy – has never worked against a military junta, especially one headed by a madman.

    Sanctions – Waste of time as the people are already against the government and will exacerbate the unbelievable hardship of the Zimbabweans.

    Passive Resistance – Tried that. Thousands are dead and the military appear to have no compunction about killing all dissenters – including women and children. Mugabe has no conscience at all.

    Assassination – The military junta will find another figurehead to front the government. The only advantage here is it may force the SA government to do something as they may be less reluctant to intervene against the new “leader”

    Military intervention – Mogadishu anyone? Vietnam? Mugabe has already said that they will go back to the bush war. Expect the UN (and America) not to want to touch this with a barge-pole. Unfortunately, as the extremist has remarked, the only bush-war capable army was South Africa – but they now only have neophytes, having lost all their veterans.

    Civil War – Sadly, the most likely scenario. Hope SA is preparing for the massive influx of refugees…

    Judging by the lukewarm global response to Darfur, I suspect the Zimbabweans are basically on their own, poor bastards.

  46. MacDoctor 46

    Such a force would be in the role of peacekeepers, not troublemakers. They would separate the people from their oppressors and cast the protective shield around the democratic process for which Zimbabwe yearns

    Nice thought. But we all know that the “peacekeepers” would be fighting a war with Mugabe’s army as soon as they crossed the border.

  47. rave 47

    Here’s a revelatory article on Zimbabwe that is not a knee jerk to the the anti-Mugabe Western ‘peacekeepers’.

  48. Tane 48

    Rave. Stop defending Mugabe as a ‘revolutionary’. The man is corrupt, undemocratic and his brand of redistribution is nepotism, not socialism. You strike me as someone who’s gone so far left he’s come out the other side.

    Don’t think you can make your socialist revolution by forsaking democracy. That path is littered with corpses.

  49. Not everyone who labels themsevles a socialist is good. Mugabe clearly isn’t a socialist or good.

    MacDoctor – a third of Zimbabwe’s population has already fled for SA.

    I think the fact that so many people are Zimbabwe are finding life so hard probably means soldiers see their families suffering and that would undermine their loyalty to Mugabe.

    Any intervention would have to be slow in, quick out. Fortunately, Zimbabwe has the State intact, so there would be no need for an invading force to act in its place.

  50. James Kearney 50

    rave- just had a look at your site. I don’t mean to mock a comrade, but this is some kind of parody, right?

    Appeal of the Leninist Trotskyist Fraction

    May 1st 2008

    For an International Conference of principled Trotskyists and revolutionary workers organizations

    The crisis in the capitalist imperialist world economy; the restoration of capitalism in Cuba; the fraudulent ‘Bolivarian revolution’; the heroic resistance of the masses of the Middle East: these are the frontlines in the class war that divides reformists from revolutionaries. We put forward our revolutionary response to these acid tests of the global class struggle.

    I mean, is there a little school somewhere where they teach you how to throw your critical faculties out the window and write like a Soviet-era hack?

  51. Lew 51


    Hannah Arendt:

    [Preceded by a list of rights afforded by freedom] “All these liberties, to which we might add our own claims to be free from want and fear, are of course essentially negative; they are the results of liberation but they are by no means the actual content of freedom, which, as we shall see later, is participation in public affairs, or admission to the public realm.” (from On Revolution).

    That includes voting, and having your vote matter.

    It is the electoral violation which rests at the heart of everything else in Zimbabwe. Once a leader is no longer accountable to his people, all fetters on his or her behaviour are meaningless and he or she begins to act in a self-serving manner, rather than a manner serving the people who make up his or her constituency. Everything else that’s bad about dictatorships, socialist dictatorships being the worst examples of these we have in history, stems from this bar to participation in public life.

    Per Arendt’s argument here, even supposing a dictatorship were economically, socially and militarily successful and its inhabitants were free from want and fear, without those rights to participation in the public life of the polity, those living in that dictatorship would not be free and the nation would therefore not have been legitimately revolutionised. But Zimbabwe isn’t even in that case. Its citizens are free from neither want nor fear. The country is economically and socially bankrupt as well as civilly and politically.

    It’s clear that the defense of Mugabe’s regime on socialist grounds is pretty broken. It’s true that Mugabe’s initial achievements in fighting the British were greatly successful, but he went too far, which is what happens when you don’t have a political mandate to earn.


  52. MacDoctor 52

    Steve: a third of Zimbabwe’s population has already fled for SA.

    Yep, and being murdered as we speak. Mbeki has ignored the issue and this is the consequence.

    Rave: The article is impressively dumb. It amazes me how someone can write such a well researched article and come to totally the wrong conclusions. Ten minutes on a street in Harare would tell him that the problem is nothing to do with evil quislings and neo-colonials and everything to do with power. It is the myth of the great revolutionary Mugabe that allows Mbeki to sit on his hands and do nothing while hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans are slaughtered and millions die of starvation. To accede any vestige of legitimacy to the Mugabe regime is to give your approval of his butchery.

  53. higherstandard 53

    After a scan through Rave’s website it appears that the left leaning posters/commenters on this site are extraordinarily moderate, some truly bizarre views there.

    Readers might be interested in this from Joshua Nkomo on Mugabe.


  54. Matthew Pilott 54

    James kearney – methinks someone’s spent too much time watching Revue.

    Mac Doctor – that’s what I meant about Mbeki messing up his own pad. There are much more recent stories than that one – recent riots throughout South Africa were in part due to a reaction against Zimbabweans looking for work there.

    As The extremist pointed out, it’s not simply a case of South Africa fixing everything up, that time has long passed. But I don’t entirely agree with your earlier list of options – there is a strong resistance which might lead to a civil war, but could equally form an agreement with Mugabe’s cabal (ex-Mugabe of course) provided the benefits – economic stability, food, peace – were manifest.

    [lprent: corrected your link]

  55. Lew 55

    HS: “it appears that the left leaning posters/commenters on this site are extraordinarily moderate”

    What, you mean like we’ve all been trying to tell you?

    It’s just the Blue Tories versus the Red Tories versus the Green Tories around here!



    [lprent: Hah! You missed the only important category – Tech tory skeptic]

  56. MacDoctor 56

    Matthew: there is a strong resistance which might lead to a civil war, but could equally form an agreement with Mugabe’s cabal (ex-Mugabe of course) provided the benefits – economic stability, food, peace – were manifest.

    And no-one would be more pleased than I, if they did. I have a number of good friends, white and black, in Zimbabwe. All of them have been harassed and assaulted by Mugabe’s thugs – for running a missionary orphanage of all things! That denotes so much hatred and fear of the ordinary people that I find it hard to believe they would sit down and talk reasonably – even without Mugabe.

    Thanks for the great article. Nkomo always struck me as a wise gent – too bad Mugabe had the upper hand in Zanu-PF.

    “Fear is a weapon of despair, used by those who fear the people.”

    Yep, you tell ’em, Joseph. Pity no-one listens.

  57. Lew:

    I reckon it’ll come to much the same thing. I’m certain there will be defectors among the ZNA, but a force to be reckoned with will undoubtedly still remain loyal to the Zanu-PF.

    I see SADC is meeting today in Swaziland and Mbeki isn’t attending: http://www.thetimes.co.za/News/Article.aspx?id=790625. I wonder if Zuma will be…

    Anyway, if out of this meeting we can get approval from SADC for a peace-keeping mission with Botswana, Namibia and South Africa co-operating then we could be in business.

    I don’t think either of the 3 countries could foot the bill for something like this on their own but together we might not cripple ourselves economically.

    But I’m also hoping SADC doesn’t jump the gun and waits for our latest diplomatic mission to either report success or failure (within a reasonable time, of course) before acting.

  58. MacDoctor:

    Excellent comments. Regarding the Xenophobic attacks: A great many people are volunteering to help out. It was amazing to see so many people from so many walks of life pull together to care for those affected by the violence.

    The riots seem to be largely over now, but they’ve left a wake of destruction that seems irreparable.

    South Africa really isn’t in the international community’s good books at the moment and I truly hope our government start doing the right thing rather than doing what they think they need to be doing to save face among their peers.

  59. Pascal's bookie 59

    As unpalatable as the idea might sound, I wonder if part of the solution in cases such as this is to offer the despot refuge somewhere, along the lines of the odious Idi Amin wasting his days away in the middle east.

    It offends the conscience to think that such a criminal should not meet justice.

    I think that sometimes regimes find themselves with no option but spiralling repression. Their crimes have become such, that there is no way that, as humans, the individuals at the top can let go. To do so means probable death, and lives of poverty for their families, clans etc.

    That such a fate is no more than they deserve is beside the point, they are humans and will act like humans and try to avoid that fate with all the power at their disposal.

    The result is a regime that will fight to their own deaths or the death of the last citizen if that is what it takes, and every day the posssibilty of relenquishing power becomes more untenable. And so the world has to make the decisions based around options that look like macdoctors 2.50 post.

    Given that all those options are horrific, is it that untenable for a quiet unofficial offer to be made that Mugabe and his immediate underlings can live out the rest of their days in some compound somewhere with the threat of war crime trials or Zimbabwean(?) national justice keeping them prisoner? Who would make that offer I don’t know. (China perhaps. They deserve him.) But I suspect it would save many thousands of lives, and just possibly allow space for Zimbabwe to avoid further self destruction.

    The deal should should be a sudden, shameful retreat from the people in the dead of the night, but he will live. He can be tried in his absence. Whatever.

    The tyrant lives, escapes his fate, but his name will be shit, and history will be an effective enough judge, if not an immediatly satisfying one.

    I am not saying that this would make me happy. Or that I am comfortable with it.

    2c as the saying goes. What do others think? Would this save lives and spare potential further destruction? Would it be worth making the offer? If he refuses what has been lost?

  60. T-rex 60

    Pascal – I kind of like the idea.

    I’m just not sure about the precedent it might set… would other sligtly dodgy leaders feel less accountable and become more rash as a result – knowing that if it got away on them and they lost control they had an ticket to freedom as long as they appeared sufficiently desperate. What might they do in order to appear so?

    Also – if it was simply a matter of removal, wouldn’t assassination be just as effective? Hmm. No. Martyr vs Coward, no comparison.

    So just the first point to consider then.

    Aren’t there laws about harbouring war criminals?

  61. rave 61

    Tane when does a revolution stop? Mugabe collaborated with Britain and the US, but they wouldnt agree to land reform. Don’t you think getting the land back is an elementary democratic right? If a country remains dominated by the old colonists and colonial powers where is national freedom and what is ‘democracy’ worth.
    Mugabe has lots of faults but the biggest was his failure to break with the white settlers and imperialism earlier.
    SA wont intervene militarily [nor will the Brits or US] for fear that it will unite the masses of SA against the neo-colonial quisling regimes.

  62. Tane 62

    Rave, I’ve no objection to land redistribution. But Mugabe’s land redistribution has been mired by cronyism and unspeakable incompetence. You’re blinkered by ideology if you think his actions have helped bring about socialism.

    And besides, even if you put all that to one side, Mugabe’s destruction of democracy in Zimbabwe should alone disqualify him from your support. Bandying about terms like “Neocolonialism” and “Imperialism” doesn’t excuse the actions of a tyrant or invalidate any criticisim of him.

  63. MacDoctor 63

    Pascal: quiet unofficial offer to be made that Mugabe and his immediate underlings can live out the rest of their days in some compound somewhere

    One of my Zimbabwean friends told me that that offer was already made by the MDF last month and turned down (except that it was for deportation to a neutral country, rather than a compound). The offer was turned down by Mugabe, but my friend says he thinks that the military leaders refused to let him take the offer.

    But it was a good thought.

    How’s the weather on your planet?

  64. Lew 64

    Pascal/T-rex/MacDoctor: [Re offering Mugabe exile in lieu of prosecution].

    This is similar to what the Thai government (with the tacit support of the international community) did for Pol Pot, Ta Mok, Ieng Sary and other high-ups from the Khmer Rouge – exiled them to their own armed camps in the badlands at the Thai border (Anlong Veng and Pailin areas) where until recently they remained, effectively immune to justice and still controlling large numbers of people and big chunks of the primary economy in gemstones and lumber.

    Whether you favour this sort of thing is a question of whether you value peace over justice. The idea of appeasement is to secure peace at the cost of justice, but in the Cambodian case, there has been neither peace nor justice. I’m sure there are other cases along these lines with which I’m not familiar, but on the basis of my knowledge of this case, I’m disinclined to support such measures.


  65. rave 65

    Tane, I am critical of Mugabe. But you have to judge his failures and excesses in light of an ongoing war of liberation against imperialism.
    What other word would you use for the way that the Western powers have brought Africa to its knees? ‘Civilisation’?
    The precondition for “freedom” in Zimbabwe is real equality of ownership and control of the nation’s resources; anything less, including the terrible failures of Zanu-PF, are in the service of the freedom of international profiteers.
    I never claimed that Mugabe was socialist. He has made far too many deals with imperialism for that. But now that he has thumbed his nose at his ‘real masters’ he will be brought down, and the rule of the coloniser, now as Gowans descibes, under the guise of ‘democracy’ and ‘civil society’, will be restored. Unless… but I don’t think The Standardistas want to go there.

  66. Tane 66

    Rave, how am I supposed to know whether I want to go there if I can’t even understand what you’re trying to say?

    Please, explain clearly: As a socialist, do you or do you not support Mugabe? Do you or do you not think he should be removed? Why?

  67. Lew 67

    rave: `Democracy’ and `civil society’ are precisely what Mugabe and others fought to wrest for the Zimbabwean people from the Smith regime. They are (or should be) the end goal of revolution. Once they’re in place, problems begin to solve themselves. By rejecting them Mugabe has brought the current troubles on his country. By defending his doing so, claiming they are colonialist devices to enslave a people, you discredit the legitimate revolutions of history, and the will of the Zimbabwean people.


  68. Pascal's bookie 68

    Lew, I don’t think I suggested appeasement.

    Usually appeasement is where you give something to someone who is demanding it, in order to prevent war. I’m thinking about of an offer more along the lines of an ultimatum.

    Raise the threat level to the point that Mugabe knows he is finished. Cut off all official ties. Declare Zimbabwe a failed state an establish an interim government in exile. Start getting a UN peace keeping force together. Have some ‘friendly’ state unofficialy offer him escape with complete deniabilty, make it look like he is fleeing, not getting a deal.

    I completely agree that internal exile won’t work, but I fear that that is a more likely outcome from other scenarios. The world community will lose interest pretty quickly if Mugabe and his followers head for the bush and lay low. I mean, we couldn’t even be arsed finishing off the Taliban.

  69. Lew 69

    Pascal: Indeed, you didn’t, but I’m arguing it would constitute a form of appeasement. That in itself doesn’t mean it can’t be a good idea; I’m just not convinced it would be in this case.

    If the ZNA have indeed prevented Mugabe from taking up such an offer already, I’d expect this would just result in warlordism unless a well-armed and well-equipped peacekeeping force with a strong international mandate were put in place at the same time, to fill the power vacuum. Once all the steps you list above were taken, exile would be a surrender manouvre by Mugabe, rather than acceptance of an offer of clemency by the international community; but perhaps that’s just window-dressing.

    As far as the Taliban goes – it’s not that they couldn’t be arsed; it’s that they couldn’t. No invading force has ever pacified Afghanistan by military means, and I don’t see the US or UN doing so now. The solutions are political, and to an extent economic.


  70. Pascal's bookie 70

    I’m not convinced is a good idea myself, I was just wondering about a circuit breaker.

    I’m also not convinced I’d be afraid for the system of international justice (such as it is) if Mugabe fled away in the night and rumours started floating about that he was holed up in China.

    ” exile would be a surrender manouvre by Mugabe”

    Exactly. The idea being to provide a form of surrender tenable for the regime.

    “The solutions are political, and to an extent economic.”

    Which is where we couldn’t be arsed. Removing the Taliban from power was easy. Capturing the leadership probably doable but not done. Securing the peace hard and barely attempted.

    I don’t see anything about Zimbabwe that makes me think that the world’s attention will stay focused once the comparatively easy bit is done and the regime is out of power but still hiding in the bush.

  71. rave 71

    Tane: As a socialist I do not support Mugabe’s regime as capable of winning economic independence and meeting the needs of the people.
    It has a proven record of selling out to the British, and of trying to solve its internal problems by repressive use of state force.
    Nor do I support the MDC which is a stooge of Western Imperialism (the so-called international community)which in the event it won power would soon re-open Zimbabwe up to the IMF and international capital so it would end up like South Africa.

    In the immediate situation I support the right of the people to vote for any party of their choice and not be exposed to state repression.

    But any real change can only come from the independent actions of the poor workers and farmers of Zimbabwe, as against every faction of nationalist leaders who have, continue and will in the future, be subordinate to imperialism.

    That is why I oppose the intervention of the West (which is the ultimate cause of the current problems) to ‘solve’ the situation. It is a sick joke to expect the West to create conditions for ‘democracy’ and ‘civil society’ in Zimbabwe. Despite all its shortcomings I support the ZANU-PF against attempts to destroy the economy by sanctions and blockades, and in the face of military intervention.

    These general points are made clearly enough in Gowan’s many articles on his blog and they are a standard international socialist position which puts the international working class at the centre of making progressive changes.

  72. Lew 72

    rave: “I support the ZANU-PF”

    Says it all, really.


  73. higherstandard 73

    No Lew it doesn’t say it all the sentence below is required.

    Rave you are a deluded moron.

  74. Matthew Pilott 74

    This deserves Godwin’s. Anyone care to phrase it?

  75. rave. Without conceding the premeses of your argument when you say “Zimbabwe … would end up like South Africa.” are you talking about the South Africa that a third of Zimbabwe’s population has fled to in a bid to escape starvation, economic collapse, and state terrorism at home?

  76. rave. The working class, the unions, have been the leaders of opposition to Mugabe and it is the unions, not the capitialists in SA who have prevented arms shipments getting to his regime.

  77. higherstandard 77

    “Zimbabwe’s neighbours aren’t likely to intervene because that would create a precedent which would cause sleepless nights in many a presidential palace. Nor could they accept intervention by a Western-backed UN force because that would smack of re-colonisation.”

    A good discussion piece.


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