Friday, 27 June 2008

Regime Change and Zimbabwe

I guess I'm just among millions of people the world over this weekend, wishing all the harm in the world upon the awful Mugabe, his Zanu-PF mafia, and those goons of his who have been running around Zimbabwe this week advising citizens that a vote cast against the Chief will be the last thing they do on this earth. (Speaking of dictators: my bedtime hour was poisoned last night, having watched news pictures of that newly ordained Man of Peace Kim Jong-il, slouching across his imperial balcony in one of his tiny jumpsuits, so as to wave a fey hand at a parade in his honour somewhere beneath him...)
Zimbabwe, but. What is to be done? I've found myself recalling (you may too) that in the run-up to the Coalition invasion of Iraq some of the loudest voices in opposition sounded not so much opposed to regime change as desirous of setting the global agenda on same (i.e. why Saddam before Mugabe?) But let's assume that was just a minor element of a bigger rhetorical argument, and that no serious parties have the appetite, will or means for knocking Mugabe off his perch. On that note I can't quite bring myself to see what the right-wing press are saying at the moment, because rightly or wrongly I fear I'll have to read some nostalgia for Ian Smith and the Good Old Days. Thickening the moral soup on this point is a piece in the New Statesman by Mark Ashurst, director of the Africa Research Institute, and Gugulethu Moyo, a Zimbabwean lawyer. They write:
"The collapse of the post-colonial pact between Mugabe and his erstwhile enemies - the Rhodesian farmers, Britain, capitalism and Empire - has triggered a keen appetite for historical vindication among western critics. Mugabe's fiercest critics are often the same people who, in the early 1980s, turned a blind eye to the notorious "Gukurahundi" slaughter of 20,000 Ndebele loyal to his rival, the late Joshua Nkomo. But in Zimbabwe today there is not much appetite to indict Mugabe for human rights abuses - if only he would go quietly."
Well, he's not going quietly today. So what next? Timothy Garton Ash had a few suggestions in the Guardian yesterday: a new UN resolution, non-recognition of the results of today’s non-poll, no US/UK investment in a new Zimbabwean platinum mine, the rescinding of Mugabe’s honorary knighthood, a petition to Thabo Mbeki, attendance at a demonstration at Nelson Mandela's 90th birthday party in Hyde Park today - and good old sanctions, as once seemed to work in South Africa and Poland. Maybe throw into that a shot of red-blooded socialist solidarity, like the case I read highlighted by Christopher Hitchens in Slate of South African dockworkers who refused to unload a shipload of Chinese weapons bound for... guess where?
So, a few encouraging thoughts for a bad day, perhaps. Others in the London area can be more active in their expression and get along to Hyde Park.

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