Thursday, June 23, 2005


Thoughts on Zimbabwe

As an ex-pat South African living in Hong Kong I consider myself to be very fortunate. This strange little region (yes it is part of China but sort of governs itself) is the place I hope to call home. But that doesn't stop me from being interested in the goings on in Africa.
Naturally everyone has been shocked and outraged by Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's "Operation Clean out the trash" which has left hundreds of thousands of the country's poorest people without homes during the cold winter.
It drives me to want to help. But realistically, what can one person do?
It's not a question of money anymore - even if I did send some that would be a small interim measure for one person.
So we look to the powers that be, do ACT.
So far South African President Thabo Mbeki has remained silent on what amounts to genocide on his borders. This does not bode well for South Africans who I am sure are wondering if they can expect the same kind of treatment sometime in the future.
The great Nelson Mandela, respected world leader has, too, remained silent.
The United Nations is not fulfilling any sort of function. And the US has sent a strongly worded message.
But when we examine the problem the solutions are limited. Sanctions will only hurt the people, not the government as Mugabe continues to cozy up to China and get whatever he wants from there. Food aid, which is sure to be needed in the near future is at best a temporary solution, at worst giving Mugabe another weapon with which to beat his opposition by withholding food.
The laughable idea of another American invasion into an undemocratic country to rescue its people will only result in wholesale slaughter of innocents, if it were to happen at all.
The ugly fact is that the change has to come from within.
Alan Stang in his article on the coming "American Gulag" quotes Soviet dissident author Alexander Solzhenitsyn whose writings are chillingly apt to Zimbabwe today:
"At what exact point, then, should one resist? When one's belt is taken away. When one is ordered to face into a corner? When one crosses the threshold of one's home? . . . ." The same questions that are bothering you now. Solzhenitsyn bitterly laments the Russian failure to resist:

"And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if every Security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive and had to say good-bye to his family? Or if, during periods of mass arrests, as for example in Leningrad, when they arrested a quarter of the entire city, people had not simply sat there in their lairs, paling with terror at every bang of the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase, but had understood they had nothing left to lose and had boldly set up in the downstairs hall an ambush of half a dozen people with axes, hammers, pokers, or whatever else was at hand? . . ."

". . . After all, you knew ahead of time that those bluecaps were out at night for no good purpose. And you could be sure ahead of time that you,d be cracking the skull of a cutthroat. Or what about the Black Maria sitting out there on the street with one lonely chauffeur"what if it had been driven off or its tires spiked? The Organs would very quickly have suffered a shortage of officers and transport and, notwithstanding all of Stalin's thirst, the cursed machine would have ground to a halt!"

The average Zimbabwean has nothing left to lose, if we are to believe the reports coming out of that country. It's time they realised the cavalry isn't coming.
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