Thursday, June 23, 2005

Even Condoleeza Rice finds Zimbabwe evictions awful

The most recent horror: in Harare two children were crushed when authorities tore down their homes. This wide-ranging BBC NEWS dispatch gives the sorry details.

Condoleeza Rice calls the evictions "tragic." A state department spokesman calls them a "tragedy, crime, horror." But what are they willing to do to support the squatters?


B. Doe said...

Even the idea of tearing down someone's residence without provinding a substitute, squatter or no, is reprehensible. To do this with PEOPLE (CHILDREN!!) in the house is inexcusable. Those who know about this -- and are in a position to do something about it (are you reading this, Condoleeza Rice?) -- need to do more than just suck their teeth and say how "tragic" it is.

rn said...

Thanks, Bryan, for your tough reminder. Words are cheap.

And here's more hot air from today's New York Times: after British foreign secretary Jack Straw called on African governments to lean on Mugabe to end the evictions, "a spokesman for Thabo Mbeki, the South African president, said he was 'really irritated' by lectures from Western officials."

It's getting hard to read this crap: the blowhards on all sides just keep blowing.

Anonymous said...

What can the United States or Great Britain do, especially after the Zimbabwean government has essentially broken diplomatic ties with both countries following previous criticism of the Mugabe government and rigged elections? Sort of invading Zimbabwe and crushing Zanu PF, there's nothing much that any power outside of Zimbabwe *can* do.

rn said...

Point taken, Roger. And I certainly understand your caustic comment about a possible preemptive invasion.

But the US and Great Britain do have programs in Zimbabwe (US AID's 2006 budget for Zimbabwe was admittedly paltry, approx. $15 million, but it does exist.)

Beyond words, Bush and Blair could allocate seed money for infrastructure or purchase of better building materials or support for community-run cooperatives designed to bring water and electricity to their homes.

These programs would at least offer something positive to the country. And they might be hard for the cash-strapped Zanu PF government to turn down.

Or the two big foreign powers could threaten to cut all aid and trade completely.

That's not to say that Mugabe and Zanu-PF would budge from their anti-squatter and anti-demoncratic policies.

Still, I'd argue that the U.S. and Britain would provide a great social benefit all over the world if they would support squatters. That means coming up with positive programs that recognize squatters for what they are: citizens.

Isn't it worth a try?

Anonymous said...

The bulk of American and British aid going to Zimbabwe is emergency food aid - withholding this is not going to help squatters or hurt Robert Mugabe.

The only nations with the influence in Zimbabwe to put diplomatic pressure on Mugabe (China and South Africa) do not appear inclined to do so, each for different reasons.

rn said...

You've got my attention, Roger. Why do you think South Africa and China are not interested in supporting the squatters?

Anonymous said...

China is investing in Zimbabwe, or rather, investing in Zimbabwe by means of Robert Mugabe and ZANU PF, hence, they do not wish to rock the boat lest they jeopardize their investments.

Thabo Mbeki's reticence is less practical, or even sensible, as Zimbabwean refugees have been pouring across the border into South Africa. The ANC has, sensibly, considered Mugabe an ally from the days of apartheid, and depressingly, they seem to have given him a political pass based on his assistance in the 80's. Recently, Mbeki said he's "tired of western nations" lecturing Africa, an obvious reference to the outrage over Zimbabwe. This is an enormous political lapse, since South Africa alone has the power and proximity to lean on Mugabe in any meaningful way.