On the conscience of a continent

Robert Mugabe has been handed a de-facto victory in the Zimbabwean Presidential election after Morgan Tsvanagarai pulled out of the forthcoming second ballot. After the horrific events of recent weeks, marked by torture murder and intimidation, Robert Mugabe sweeps back in to power. This outcome has been suspected and long over due. The farcical first ballot, the delayed results, the spate of killings of opposition members and the delay in releasing a date for the second ballot has granted Mugabe the chance to centralise power and neutralise or intimidate his opposition to a point whereby they feel there is no point in participating in any electoral challenge. In many ways I cannot blame them. Why face further death and torture, with little if any concrete international support, only to hear at the end of it all a ”result” that was probably pre-prepared by the regime?

The responsibility for the fact that this despot has remained in office lies not solely on Mugabes shoulders but on the shoulders of those who have cowered behind the cautious rhetoric of ”concern”. This has become the diplomatic ‘get out clause’. We don’t want to do anything… but we can’t be seen as doing nothing… so air concern. In addition to this the neighbours of Zimbabwe, and the leaders of the African continent as a whole, have as much spine as a jelly baby. Their refusal to act and the wests refusual to move beyond mere words has resulted in perhaps the biggest African despot since Idi Amin, being granted a further term in office. He is a man who has as much regard for the principle of democracy as he does for human life.

He has dominated and destroyed the country he has led since its independence from Britain in 1980, transforming it from the bread basket to the basket case of the African continent. Unemployment is over 80%, inflation is in the hundreds of thousands and life expectancy is in the 30’s, quite a score card Mugabe has accumulated. The African leaders have sat back and watched as their fellow africans are beaten and tortured for exercising the democratic rights that they fought and died for against imperial powers such as Britain.

This latest development flies in the face of democracy and general human rights. Here in the western world we claim the moral highground as a hemisphere that prides itself on defending the rights and liberties of all humans, yet we sit back and watch as a man who is known to have condemned his people to poverty, a man who revels in ridiculing our leaders and a man who has destroyed a former colony, as he walks in to yet another tortuous term in office. I don’t care how we do it, I don’t care how long it takes we need to dispose of the despot that is Robert Mugabe or we will have as much legitimacy to claim the moral high ground as he does to claim the presidency of Zimbabwe. None at all.


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