|low graphics version | feedback | help|
|You are in: Talking Point|
Tuesday, 13 March, 2001, 12:11 GMT
Should Europe be dealing with Zimbabwe?
There are renewed calls for greater international pressure to be brought to bear on Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe, currently visiting Europe.
The government has been cracking down in recent weeks on the judiciary, political opponents and the media as it prepares for president elections due by next year.
At the weekend another white person was murdered on a farm - the eighth in the past year.
Criticism of Mr Mugabe's policies was highlighted on Monday by an angry confrontation with British gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell in Brussels.
Many opponents of the Zimbabwe Government want sanctions against President Mugabe - who is having official meetings with the European Commission and President Chirac of France - including a travel ban and a freezing of his international bank accounts.
Should the international community be continuing its dialogue with President Mugabe at a time of such crisis in Zimbabwe? What role can the outside world play in bringing the violence to an end?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
It was embarrassing and shameful to see the red carpet treatment that Chirac afforded to Mugabe on his visit to Paris. Clearly Chirac is more interested in scoring points against the UK Government than he is about the welfare of the people of Zimbabwe.
All the comments here go to show that in an increasingly integrated world we can't turn a blind eye to wrongdoing just because it isn't on our doorstep. All the countries on earth are but rooms in a single house and we ignore tyranny at our own peril.
I don't think any sanctions should be applied as that will only hurt the ordinary people whatever their race or colour. Strong dialogue is called for by the collective European Union. Mugabe should be left in no doubt that his evil methods and savagery will not be tolerated.
Everyday life in Zimbabwe has become an ordeal. Farmers are being murdered, petrol is running out, crops have been destroyed - the economy is a disaster. How can any European Government agree to meet with a dictator who is destroying his country for his own personal gain? How long should we sit here and watch the destruction? How much more blood should be shed before the European Union takes action?
Darren Davison, USA
Mugabe has to go and the foreign community should force him out! They can do this by banning all arms sales, restrict foreign travel for Zimbabwe politicians and government employees, and freeze all foreign accounts with the illegal money stolen from innocent Zimbabwe citizens.
Mugabe is the head of a murderous regime and must be isolated.
To Rob Carter I have this to say:
Those who saw Mugabe as a beacon of hope in 1980 tended to be ignorant of the finer details of our liberation struggle. By independence Mugabe already had a string of atrocities, including murders of his rivals, behind him. Those of us who knew better are not at all surprised. We were always a bit annoyed at the plaudits the man was undeservedly receiving from the international community. Almost all the worthy leaders during the liberation struggle were assassinated by the usurpers we have in power today.
Rob Carter, USA/ ex-Zimbabwe
This has been (wrongly) turned into a black-white issue. It must be remembered that many of Mugabe's supporters are indeed white and of the more lighter shades. His greatest supporter and supplier of arms in the DRC is John Bredenkamp - a British man with distinctly white skin. This is not a black-white issue. It is one of power and greed and the ignorance of an insane man.
I totally agree with J. Man'ombe of Zimbabwe. Mugabe will do anything to retain power even if it means destroying the economy, his country and his people.
I believe the international community should continue dialogue with President Mugabe. In doing so they should persuade him to do the right thing by the people, and leave office.
Why is Europe just concerned with whites when in actual fact the greatest number of people killed in the violence are blacks. Mugabe is playing dirty tricks on the Opposition not necessarily the white community. Do not segregate blacks from your concern. I always hear of Mugabe as a killer because he killed white farmers. My point is don't narrow your coverage widen it to cover black people in Zimbabwe.
Mugabe is an autocrat and ruthless leader, who is killing blacks and whites not only through state funded violence but also through poverty. Let the world do away with racist feelings so that we work together to do away with leader like Mugabe.
The case in Zimbabwe has nothing to do with being white or black but about people but treated unjustly because it is not only white farmers' land being taken away but also that of black people as well. As for having Ian Smith back in power - I think not because he is just as bad as Mugabe and black people will have to go through apartheid once again. The people of Zimbabwe need a true honest, just leader who does not see people for their colour but for being who they are.
When South Africa declared "apartheid" as law, the world banned and sanctioned us and correctly so, so that we could get our act together and not but a value on the colour of your skin. Is Mugabe not doing the same now? The world should take action now, before things get to a point where from where there is no return, if it is not too late already!
Kit Molio, Zimbabwe
The "land issue" is a joke. In 1980/ 81 a plan to redistribute land on a voluntary buy/ sell plan was put forth. There was more land offered than needed. It did not take long to realise that all the redistribution was going to Comrade Bob's cronies. This caused the UK and USA to distance themselves from the process. This has not stopped ZANU-PF from pointing fingers at everyone except themselves.
Mugabe must be held accountable for his actions. Zimbabweans cannot effect change against a government which has armed its police and military to the teeth and hired thugs who are labelled war vets - and armed them as well. No, unless the international community steps in now, Zimbabwe and its people have no chance at all.
I say, arrest Mugabe, freeze his assets and show the world that mankind will no longer tolerate his kind.
I think it's about time an African leader stood up and tried to help his people reap the riches that there are on offer. If only the rest of Africa would get behind him, stop fighting their brothers and awaken this sleeping giant.
I have a brother who moved to Zimbabwe from South Africa about 10 years ago and made a life for himself which he loved. Under Mr Mugabe's complete mismanagement and vicious instigating, the country he moved to no longer exists and he is leaving this week to go back to South Africa and on to Canada eventually. To have taken a country so full of promise and driven it right into the ground is one of the saddest things I have witnessed. There are so many like him and I fail to see how Africa wins in this scenario.
If half the things that Mugabe has done were to be put into practice in the UK there would be international outcry. Also if some of the suggestions below were to even be hinted by the government then we would be excluded from Europe, the US, and the Commonwealth. How can someone justify saying that someone has to leave a country because of the colour of their skin? Its ludicrous.
The EU and any other country that has any links with Mugabe's regime should cut them so that he is hurt by their actions. He should not be allowed to rig the next elections and the people of Zimbabwe should vote him out once and for all, then he should be charged by the UN for war crimes/crimes against humanity.
There have been many good points made but most of you have forgotten something. There are millions of voiceless people in Zimbabwe (without the luxury of the internet) who are the most affected by Mugabe's policies. These are the people that are subjected to intimidation, torture and starvation everyday. Mugabe knows the wicked skill of manipulation. He knows where his votes will come and how to get them. These people who have yet to discover the modern world of open and global communication. They are hidden from the rest of the world and Mugabe knows this. They will vote for him or fear retribution.
Mugabe is using Europe against itself. As long as he's seen to make reassurances periodically, he gets away with it until the next time. Can't Europe see that he says one thing and does another? Should Europe be dealing with Zimbabwe? Yes they should but Mugabe does not at all represent the majority of Zimbabweans. Europe should not deal with Mugabe and freeze his international assets that contain what rightfully belongs to his starving population.
One of the main purposes for Mr Mugabes' visit to Europe was to discuss peace plans for the war in Congo.
Surely the resolution of a war which has cost hundreds of thousands of lives should take priority.
Or are the lives of Congolese people not as important as the rights of farmers.
As usual it is a black white divide isn't it? I am not in any way condoning the behaviour of the Mugabe regime but I can't help but wonder why I don't hear any protests against human rights abuses which are commonplace in the rest of Africa. Maybe it is due to the fact that the victims are "black". Zimbabweans of all races face intimidation.
I can't help but marvel at the way the British media enhances the race issue every time. Is it really necessary to report that eight "white" farmers have been killed so far? When the real victims of Mugabe's madness are the poor "blacks" who can't afford to fly to Britain and seek asylum.
It is ironic that Mugabe continues to court aid from Europeans, the same people he demonises at home. It is sickening that they allow it.
Giles Cowley, UK
Seems to forget the duties placed on the Zimbabwean political parties by the Lancaster House Agreement. Duties that Mr Mugabe quickly ignored as they did not fit with his quest for power via a single party system.
The good Dr also seems to ignore the fact that Mugabe's
thugs are also beating up and evicting black commercial farmers from their land as well as members of the opposition.
If this was happening in an EC nation we would complain and take some form of stance, therefore it is only right that we do so now
I cannot go back home because I am the wrong colour.
It is sad at this moment in time to see educated people support a racist and tyrant like Mugabe. The oppression of the 70s and 60s should have been a lesson for every progressive person and not a reference to support thuggish behaviour.
Mugabe has not only failed the White Zimbabweans but also the blacks and Africa as a whole. He is a disgrace.
I was in Zimbabwe in November 2000 and it's a fantastic country, but the people have had enough. Every person I spoke to, most of which were black, said "It's time to move on. We need a new leader"
I live in France and have a French wife, I love living here, but I am totally disgusted that Mr Chirac met that murdering racist Mugabe. I love France, but I really do not like the arrogance of the French ruling class and their need to be the first world's rebel.Sickening!
Paul C., USA
What is the use of the European community to give us aid through the Mugabe government when the majority of us Zimbabweans do not benefit, because of his corrupt regime. Long after he has gone which we hope is sooner than later we will be struggling to pay back money which never benefited us. Aid from the European community or no aid is the same for the Zimbabwean people we are suffering under Robert Mugabe. Hold on with aid until we have in place a responsible government which is not corrupt and respects the rule of law.
Rob Holman, UK
Do they have a choice not to deal with Mugabe. They have minerals, fertile land, unskilled and cheap labour and what have you? So the western world could not but strike a deal with him.
Belgium should do something, but the UK should have a long time ago. Zimbabwe should have been ejected from the commonwealth as Mugabe's behaviour is clearly racist and against the democratic standing of the commonwealth. I am appalled at the lack of action in this case.
Fair enough Dr. Kuba Assegai, but, next time one of the African countries comes West, begging to bail them out of the next mess caused by the never-ending corruptness of African leaders, he will, of course, be the first to condemn those leaders for asking for aid. (Don't hold your breadth, folks).
Fred B, USA
England and USA were quick in charging some 'Serbians' with abuse of human rights. What about Mugabe? OOhh... I forgot UK, USA and others do make business with this one! I understand now.
Now that it's whites being killed in Zimbabwe it's such a concern for the western countries. It's only 8 of them who have died in a year. How many blacks did the British kill in a day when they were in power in Zimbabwe?
I hope you're playing Devils advocate and that you have the correct hard facts on the Lancaster House agreement. If Zimbabwe had kept to its pre-requisite promises within the agreement I'm sure Britain would have honoured its side - or perhaps it is you who are suffering from selective amnesia ? I hope you are enjoying your political and economic freedom in America.
Gerry from Scotland - we have been talking to this corrupt regime for too many decades, it is always the burden of a leaders position to decide when words are no longer enough. No pain - no change!
I am very supportive of the high profile being maintained in the press about Zimbabwe by news agencies such as the BBC. Politicians, in my personal view, are generally driven by actions that will be popular in the public eye. Since the general public in the UK is very much aware of the atrocities being committed in Zimbabwe, the British government has been encouraged to take a definite position on the Zimbabwe issue - although a lot more could still be done. The question is: How can we raise the awareness amongst the population in European countries to ensure that governments such as Belgium and France do not greet Mugabe with open arms?
On the issue of raising awareness, I would like to ask the press to PLEASE change the emphasis on Mugabe being vilified only because of his treatment of white farmers (e.g. on BBC TV news after the attack on Peter Tatchell). It is true that they have withstood enormous pressure and suffered great losses, but ALL Zimbabweans are being mistreated by their own government. There are regular beatings across the country, families have lost all sources of income and are living on one meal a day etc etc - and it will only get worse.
Talking yes! Treating as a guest of honour NO.
Dr Assegai is spouting racist claptrap. The economy of Zimbabwe is in crisis as it is because of the excesses of Mugabe and his gang, if the remaining whites (many of whom are 3rd and 4th generation Zimbabweans) were forced to leave the whole infrastructure of the country would collapse. If Dr Assegai is as concerned as he would have us believe why does he not emigrate to Zimbabwe and 'Save' them?
When will Mugabe realise that he is playing to every unreconstructed stereotype of post-colonial African rulers. Still, soon there will be nothing of worth to rule over.
As a Zimbabwean with relatives still in the country
we call upon the European Union and the Commonwealth
to place sanctions on Mr. Mugabe, freeze his bank accounts
and expel them from the Commonwealth, as this type of
behaviour is totally unacceptable in the 21st Century, everyone
should be able to feel protected by the law in a country, which is evident
that there is no such law and order in Zimbabwe and we should not stand
back an allow this type of thing to happen to anyone, we need to take a bigger
stand in this mess.
John Carter, UK
That despicable man, and his whole gang of butchering thugs, should be ostracised by every single person in this world.
How can Cook, justify talking to him? Ditto, Chirac?
Like Milosovic, the man should be brought to trial for Crimes against Humanity....not that he knows what that word means, of course!
Put a News Blackout on him.
Like so many tin pot regimes the real tragedy of Mugabe's reign is the blatant corruption. It must be terrible for white farmers and they have my sympathy. But what about the millions of blacks who are suffering through the robbery by Mugabe's regime from his own country and have little chance of moving above the poverty line? Stealing white farms will not solve this as they will go to Mugabe's supporters. Until corruption is stopped and a genuine attempt to allow the people to decide (if this means keeping Mugabe by fair means then we have to accept this)a fair way to proceed. If you accept aid surely it is reasonable we ask for decent standards as to how it is used?
Most people seem to be missing the point on Mugabes land reform programme. The most devastating effect of this whole process will be on the indigenous people of Zimbabwe who due to Mugabes regime are so much worse off then twenty years ago that the destabilising effect the land reform is creating, will cause millions of black people to starve. Will the Western world only react once the full impact of Mugabe's rule is felt with these deaths? It is no longer about black and white but about one mans unabated greed.
Sharon Wagner-Clayton, UK
Should we not also ponder on the seemingly strange double standard that the Belgian government seems to apply with its relations with countries that appear to be xenophobic.
At once condemning countries and imposing sanctions on countries such as Austria and Italy for their choice of government, and at the same time welcoming a president with a proven track record in stirring racial hatred.
We need to set one type of policy for all EU countries at least, to maintain some form of coherence and consistency, otherwise see these people take advantage of these loopholes..
Nearly everyone in Zimbabwe was sick of Mugabe when I worked there as a teacher in 1992, except for the few who benefited from his regime. He is a mad, bad old man who puts his own survival above the grave problems facing his ten million compatriots, and in doing so has brought Zimbabwe to its knees. The UN should be much firmer.
I just think that the UK government and the wider international community, in particular the United Nations, lack the courage to do anything about Mugabe and other despots. As a former British Colony, and for the important role they played in getting Mugabe into power, they (the British government) just sit back in their ivory towers and do nothing of any substance. Other than uttering a few naughty-boy statements nothing is done. Now if this was Kuwait, with a real vested interest, it would be sorted out in double quick time. Well, it is really unfortunate that so many people are being killed and tortured while Mugabe is allowed to reign supreme. Why was he not arrested for human rights atrocities when he arrived yesterday? International community, be it on your heads, as you have the power to do something about it.
The only way to engage Mugabe, is through dialouge. The country's decline economically has not led to any policy shift by Mugabe and his government, so why should sanctions change anything. The outside world should continue to support those opposed to the Mugabe regime, whether it be support to the MDC, or local and international NGO's. People only continue to support Mugabe out of fear. He will soon lose all his local support as the country's crisis deepens. That will be the time when international agencies should become more proactive with Zimbabwe. The more confrontational international opponents become, the more Mugabe isolates himself and his country.
If he is has come to Europe for support, it is a sign that he needs help, at least this gives European leaders some bargaining power to influence Mugabe's repressive policies.
Further to my previous comments, I believe that all whites should leave the African continent to the Africans. What could they possibly contribute to the corruption, economic mismanagement and political instability that has been displayed by so many of the existing majority governments in Africa? The white farmers of Zimbabwe (many of whom have been there for 2 to 3 generations) who make a significant contribution to the Zimbabwean economy, should leave it to their black masters to manage, and make their contributions to more deserving establishments. Mugabe would then not have anyone to blame and could continue to run the country - into the ground. In addition, if he is so against external interference, then he should be left without the aid provided by 'European' communities. How long would it last then?
Firstly to the most esteemed Dr. Assegai - I am a white African, so how would it fit into your grander scheme? The fact is that Mugabe is a despot. South Africa may not have a right to interfere in the internal affairs of a sovereign state, but the fact is that what Mugabe does in his country affects the entire region. His blatant disregard for democracy and press freedom affects international opinion and thus investment which Africa so desperately needs - and let's not forget that Mugabe had no moral conflict in interfering in the former DRC.
Exactly which neo-colonial regime in South Africa is our learned Dr. Kuba Assegai from the United States talking about, the one that was voted in by the African majority?
Why is it that racism in terms of white on black, is totally, and rightly, condemned world wide. To the point where governments will boycott countries because of leading politicians' beliefs. But when it tends to be black on white a different stance is taken. My knowledge of Mugabe, comes through press reports, so are our leaders aware of wider issues than the majority?
Racism should be acknowledged in both blacks and whites and tackled accordingly. By only looking at one point then those in authority are providing fodder for those who try to install their views on those who are easily lead. This can be applied on a local as well as world wide basis.
The only interest Britain, the chief campaigner, and the rest of the western world has in Zimbabwe is the maintenance of the status quo, where a handful of white people who have grabbed the Zimbabwean peoples lands, would continue to lord it over the people of Zimbabwe. Mugabe does not need the approval or the "talking to" of Europe to be the president of an African country.
Malcolm C, how many acres of land do Africans own in the United Kingdom or the United States?
The rest of the world should deny visas and travel facilities to Mugabe and his cronies. The current on-going terrorism by the his army and the police witnessed in the high density suburbs and the rural areas of Zimbabwe, (which are being reported widely) should be a wake up call to all people who espouse democratic values. Mugabe is not a democrat and does not recognise human rights at all.
When Augusto Pinochet visited the UK in good faith he got arrested for his troubles. Perhaps Mugabe should be treated likewise.
The British have a nerve. Of course after mis-educating their population into their usual 'One Dimensional' belief on the issue of Zimbabwe they ask questions as the one you posed. Have you forgotten so easily Rt.Hon. Harold Wilson's "Kith an Kin' statements in 1965. Also is amnesia is hallmark of the British psyche, so they can forget so easily the promises at the 'Lancaster House' Agreement. As a supporter of the 'Chimurenga in Zimbabwe' I call for the total expulsion of Europeans from Zimbabwe and the rest of Africa. Moreover, if the neo-colonial regime in South Africa attempt to meddle in the internal affairs of Zimbabwe it will be the end of that un-liberated regime.
Dr Assegai, how would you feel if indigenous people in the UK (or in the US where, interestingly, you choose to make your home) called for the repatriation of "Africans" who had been born and bred in their countries?
I grew up in apartheid era South Africa (not through choice) and rebelled against the obnoxious regime there, with life changing effects.
I was delighted when democracy was finally secured there and am even more delighted now that my friends of all races are able to co-exist in far more peaceful circumstances than I would ever have imagined possible.
Contrast Nelson Mandela's position as the ultimate international statesman with that of Mugabe, who the world rightly sees as a bully boy who not only implements the most blatantly racist policies on earth, but also flouts democracy and subjugates his own people.
Why else are so many black Zimbabweans seeking asylum in the UK?
05 Mar 01 | Europe
Belgium defends Mugabe visit
05 Mar 01 | Africa
Upset over latest Zimbabwe farm death
10 Feb 01 | From Our Own Correspondent
Zimbabwe's descent into violence
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites
Other Talking Points:
Links to more Talking Point stories
|^^ Back to top
News Front Page | World | UK | UK Politics | Business | Sci/Tech | Health | Education | Entertainment | Talking Point | In Depth | AudioVideo
To BBC Sport>> | To BBC Weather>>
© MMIII | News Sources | Privacy