Christmas and Zimbabwe

Baroness D'Souza

Perhaps we all feel pretty helpless about Zimbabwe, amongst a number of other countries of repression and violence; I certainly do! I’ve gathered from almost a year of blogging that foreign affairs are not among the most favourite topics for contributors, but I am going to have my say.

Here is a huge country with an immense amount of natural wealth, a highly educated population which is on its knees mainly due to the deranged man who is its President. It is therefore very welcome to hear today the Foreign Office Minister, Lord Malloch Brown, call for Robert Mugabe to step down and encouraging other African heads of state to join in this effort. No point in going through the bleak statistics yet again, but the question remains what can be done – other than a full scale invasion?

One very small contribution is a project we have  been running for the past month or so. Gary Klaukka, a Finn and a postgraduate student at the London School of Economics is working in our office. He has been collecting the names and contact numbers of ALL parliamentarians within the EU who have shown an interest in Zimbabwe. The plan is to contact all of them to see who is willing to become involved in a network to support the opposition, Movement for Democratic Change, in Zimbabwe. This support could take many forms – providing information on various parliamentary procedures – bearing in mind that although MDC MPs have a majority in the House of Assembly, they cannot provide an effective barrier to the gross injustices of Mugabe’s ZANU PF ruling party which continues to exert power over all the ministries. Another type of support would be to mobilise European parliamentarians to protest en masse  when, as happens every day, MDC MPs are arrested, held incommunicado and tortured.

Gary and I working with the All Party Parliamentary Group on Zimbabwe, have met the MDC Speaker of the House of Assembly, Mr Lovemore Moyo, who has also met with the Lord Speaker when he was last in London. We are entirely guided by what he thinks would be appropriate support and once we have received feedback from the hundreds of European parliamentarians we will try to put individual MDC MPs in direct touch with their European counterparts. They can then forge their own political networks and request support and assistance as they  need it.

A small project, funded by the Westminster Foundation for Democracy,but one which we hope will provide a tiny measure of comfort to those beleagured politicians fighting for their lives in Zimbabwe today.

4 comments for “Christmas and Zimbabwe

  1. Senex
    24/12/2008 at 3:16 pm

    The ‘knights templar’ Desmond Tutu and the man ‘without’ a halo Dr John Sentamu would both agree with your viewpoint. By our own moral standards they would be entirely correct however they are both frustrated clerics rattling sabres.

    Like it or not the Parliament of Zimbabwe represents a democracy based upon the Westminster model. As Tony Blair explains in Part 1 of the link below “No two democracies have gone to war with each other”.

    I disagree with your view of Robert Mugabe as deranged if anything he is misguided and a liability to the nation he serves. There are African nations who have military ambitions toward Zimbabwe and covet its wealth. Why should they act when he weakens his country to the point where they can just walk in and take over?

    Can it be that he debases his people so that a sense of moral outrage will arise in the west offering a mandate to act, something that might protect him from his enemies? Sorry we stopped doing that with Iraq.

    Zimbabwe is a laboratory of democracy and Robert Mugabe is the principle lab rat.

    His people have the right to rise up and overthrow him but failing this they will learn a harsh lesson before his natural death, one that will drive and shape the future of his country for the better.

    They will raise statues to him and others will spit at them as they pass by. In the fullness of time all hatred will be forgotten and he will take his rightful place in the history of Zimbabwe if it still exists.

    Ref: see History: Pre and Post Independence
    The Daily Show Sep 18, 2008 2:10 of 5:11

  2. ladytizzy
    24/12/2008 at 3:55 pm

    If the EU can’t stand up to a threatened boycott by other African states in the EU-Africa talks after it is has banned the [insert favourite insulting noun] from entering the EU I suspect you are going to be on happy pills within a few months. Why didn’t they move the talks to Africa?

    At least you’re doing your bit and, who knows, maybe it will tilt the scales. Good luck.

  3. 25/12/2008 at 5:07 pm

    Excellent post Baroness, although the EU is not the only international organisation Britain belongs to. Have you considered contacting the Commonwealth nations?

    Fantastic idea though.

  4. 02/01/2009 at 3:12 am

    Might I enquire why, when the cause of the problem is so readily laid at the feet of just one man, the only military response floated is “full scale invasion,” a move likely to only kill more ordinary Zimbabweans? If Mugabe is the problem, why do we not assassinate him?

    Is it that we are tacitly admitting that we do not in fact have the right to interfere in other nations, no matter the supposed moral rationales? Is it that we believe a head of state who starves his own people to death is still in some sense superior and of more worth to the ordinary people we would mow down on the way to Harare? Is it that by commenting on such a thing we would have to acknowledge that the problem is actually much more complicated and institutional than “Robert Mugabe is a bad bad man”?

    As a friend of mine who lives in Harare has often said, if you want rid of Mugabe you take a gun and you shoot him. Perhaps the ordinary Zimbabwean on the street can’t afford the bullets, but we surely can. If we’re right to interfere, why can’t we kill him and only him? Why must we invade, or sanction, or try all the other foreign policy strategies that target everyone except the rich people causing the crises?

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