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Friday, 8 February, 2002, 11:21 GMT
Zimbabwe: Time for sanctions?
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Britain and the United States have strongly condemned a law passed by Zimbabwe's parliament that is expected to restrict media coverage of presidential elections in March.
UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said the European Union would have to take that into account when it decided whether or not to trigger sanctions that have already been agreed in principle.
The European Union has threatened to impose sanctions if its observers are not allowed into the country by the weekend.
There has been widespread criticism of President Mugabe after parliament approved legislation increasing the government's powers in the run-up to the March elections.
A security bill criminalizing criticism of Mr Mugabe and giving the police new powers to disperse demonstrations, and new election regulations which ban foreign and local independent monitors were passed by parliament.
How should the international community respond to President Mugabe's new laws? Should sanctions be imposed on Zimbabwe?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
The last twenty or so years of power vested in one government, or rather, one person whose history of civil rights abuses and systematic embezzelement of the economy, all of which has been well documented, must surely sway Britain and countries such as the US to invoke personal sanctions against the assets of the individuals within the Zimbabwean government. For those who pass comment without ever having been there, life in rural Zimbabwe cannot deteriorate that much further and the people there neither know nor care about the Commonwealth. The major issues are no longer race or land - it's power. Even money takes a back seat; there are no foreign reserves left!
This is disgusting! Only international intervention can save Zimbabwe. I am not always for international bodies and coalitions entering a situation but when it becomes clear that a crisis is getting out of control and there is no sign of de-escalation, then the international community must respond.
Mugabe couldn't care less whether he is in the Commonwealth or not - to think that the threat of suspending or expelling Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth would in some way influence events within that sad country is being naive in the extreme.
Also, the main reason that the so-called SADC did not do anything more than tap Mugabe with a feather is because most of them are in a similar position themselves. The old saying: "You scratch my back, and I'll scratch yours" comes to mind.
I think sanctions should be imposed just to make the point the we don't approve of a corrupt goverment. Lets face the facts sanctions can only help. The people are already starving there is over 60% unemployment and with Lybia and Iraq as friends they should have no problem moving money around.
The United States, UK -- whomever --should exercise their option and impose sanctions unilaterally. Clearly, Zimbabwe's ZANU-PF is hijacking the election, and thumbing it's nose at the world bodies. I suggest we stop pretending they will do right by their own people. Therefore the democratic world should take down this currupt leadership both covertly and overtly -- doesn't matter much to me exactly how. I say "Time for some 'real politics!'"
Is it not more than coincidence that a striking majority of the big conflicts in the world today are taking place in former British colonies? The now English government has planted seeds of trouble all over the globe before they finished looting their natural resources. Even the queen's crown is mostly stolen gems. Examples include India and Pakistan, Israel's conflict with Arabs and of course the colonial leftovers in Zim. England should not be able to manipulate its former victims into isolating one of their own.
While I would have supported the suspension of Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth, in reality, the effect will be comparitively minimal. It would have just blocked a channel of communication rather than utilise it. I stand for aggressive realistic action, rather than rethorics. The action by the UK & US agains the Taliban was real. This type of action is required again in Zimbabwe before the country and citizens are written off as a disaster zone.
If Saddam Hussein and Milosevic are contemptible, how is Mugabe any different? The world has every right to assist Zimbabwe's oppressed people. Proper land reform could be most beneficial but Mugabe's sinister manipulation of that issue, as well as his thuggish intimidation of any opposition, should not be condoned by the world community.
Sanctions on Zimbabwe are being called for at the instigation Britain. Mugabe is being punished for pursuing what blacks died for during the war. The EU, thank God has countries like France which has an independent foreign policy and will not be easily drawn into situations which they can judge for themselves. Since when has Britain been concerned with the welfare of blacks in Zimbabwe? The EU must refuse to be used by the British in its quarrel with Zimbabwe. Ironically the same British refuse join the Euro, while wanting to be called European. Wake Up EU. As for the Commonwealth thank you for refusing to be used. Three countries should never be allowed to decide who should or should not be in the club. After all, except for Mozambique, membership to the club was never applied for.
Send in the SAS to arrest Mugabe. If the US can invade Panama to get Noriega, why can't the British do the same with Mugabe?
Len, Doncaster, UK
Until such time as a coup has occurred, ie, somebody has seized power by unconstitutional means, Zimbabwe remains a democracy and should not be suspended from the commonwealth. The current state of violence and intimidation is strengthening the resolve of those who support the opposition. The British government is muddying the waters through the perception that it supports Zimbabweans of European descent. Incidentally, it doesn't. The policy has not changed since the sixties when it viewed the country as a great embarrassment and wanted to find the most expeditious route to get it off the British conscience. There has been no talk of suspending Zambia from the Commonwealth, even though its election was violent and highly irregular.
By the way, those who identify Mugabe as Malawian are wrong. He's from Kutama, just down the road from my home town of Norton. Even if he were Malawian, why should that disqualify him? Zimbabweans are Zimbabweans, whether of Shona, Ndebele, European, Malawian, Asian or mixed descent, and all should enjoy equal protection under the law. Trying to brand Mugabe as a foreigner is playing into the same petty tribalism that he is exploiting to maintain his grip on power.
Thank you to the UK for giving their support. Having just returned from home, people are now crying out for international help. Its a crazy world that nothing is being done. Its time for action.
John Moyo, USA
Why on earth is Mugabe being treated with kid gloves? This is a prime example of political correctness backfiring big time. Or is there something else we should know?
I strongly believe that we made a mistake by supporting Mugabe when Zimbabwe won its independence. Africans were much better off then than they are now. They had more freedom and more food.
What on Earth is John, Canada talking about. Of course the EU can impose sanctions without going to the UN. We have the right to trade or stop trading with anyone we want, both as an individual state and collectively for whatever reason we see fit. You seem to imply that countries have some kind of right to our trade.
The Commonwealth's failure to act is another nail in the coffin of Africa. I doubt if suspension would have bothered Mr. Mugabe (it did not bother South Africa's apartheid government),
but what it does do is add credibility to Mr. Mugabes destruction of a once beautiful and prosperous country. Credibility that he is today claiming as a diplomatic coup for his policies.
No doubt foreign aid to prevent millions from starving will further help to keep Zanu-PF in power.
The Commonwealth has just become an enormous embarrassment - the UK should leave. What real difference is there between Mugabe and Milosevic? How can the Commonwealth tolerate what is happening in Zimbabwe and still maintain the fiction of shared values etc. I object to another penny of tax payers money being spent on the institution. It is part of the past and we should let go.
David Norris, Scotland
The root of the problem has been the abdication of responsibility by the British Government in giving money to buy out white farms.
Land Reform was one of the key reasons why Mugabe and Nkomo fought for freedom for Zimbawbe from the illegal rule of Ian Smith
If the British had given the money as promised then Mugabe could have bought out the white farmers to resettle blacks.
Yup, its always easier to ignore our own part in the debacle of Zimbawbe - but then it suits old world colonials to show that the natives could never manage themselves and hence helps to justify the barbarism that went under the name of colonialism
I am and will always be tied to Zimbabwe as this is not only the place the I was born but it is also the country that I grew to love with every bit of my being and it was the saddest thing I have ever had to do when I left Zimbabwe. I am not and never have been a farmer, I and my family are just your regular everyday people but with this burning desire to see the terrible wrongs in Zimbabwe be righted.
We were deeply distressed to hear that the proposed sanctions on Zimbabwe by the Commonwealth were rejected. Why certain leaders think that Mugabe deserves another month to get his act together is beyond me. These people have never lived in Zimbabwe and really have no clue as to how serious the problem is.
To say that Mugabe has got a month to sort it out is a very bad joke. The Commonwealth has just given him his biggest weapon because come March it is going to be too late, far too late, to do anything about him or "his" election.
Just respect the African countries and their leaders like in other White or European countries. It's hypocritical to think of the harm these people inflict on each other and then failing to understand the disorders these people are suffering because of the wars and abuse during apartheid and racial segregation. Get them help as they were terrorised and abused for way too long. The Commonwealth has no real value to anyone anyway - it is just a social cluster and gathering of countries without clear results or progress.
What a relief, Commonwealth rejected the colonial attempt to put sanction on a sovereign country by its former colonial owner. And the news report said it all that except Canada, UK and Australia, none were too keen on doing so. Only the Zimbabwe-loving citizens of Zimbabwe should have a right to decide their country's future and the continuous illegal and unfortunate interventions by UK is bringing great shame to the UK only as we saw today. Mr. Jack Straw, not many share your 18th century views, no matter how good or bad they are.
Zimbabwe should be kicked out of the Commonwealth and effective sanctions
for undemocratic actions stifling any political opposition to what is a dictatorship. It is the worst example of what seems to be a problem of almost tribal African
governments in other countries too.
It seems the foreign ministers are still hoping for free and fair elections. When will these people wake up to the fact that hundreds of Zimbabweans have died and are still dying just so Mugabe can stay in power. Sorry, but I think the international community( IC) is engulfed in appalling double standards. IC reacts very quickly in situations where they have some interest and they wait till all is lost where they have nothing to gain. Amazing, when you think they will have to be trying to avert a famine soon!!!
I have lived all my life, apart from the
last 18 months in Zim. I have seen first hand, the devious tactics Mugabe has employed
over the past 22 years, to ensure that he holds the reins of power. The land invasions that
started 2 years ago,
were his final ace
card in his attempt
to gain another term in office. The
fact that these invasions have now precipitated a famine and that his thugs have ensured
the descent into complete anarchy, worries that tyrant
not one iota. If Mugabe was so concerned about the
redistribution of land, why was it not started in 1980? The reason is simple. If he had done it then, he would not have been able to reap/rape the coffers as he has done over the last 22 years. Smart sanctions should be applied.
All the money he and his right hand men have embezzled should be seized and repatriated to Zim to rebuild the country after he has gone, which, God willing, will be soon.
Zimbabwe should have been suspended from the Commonwealth a long time ago. Sanctions should have been in place already on the regime. Mugabe has no place in the Zimbabwe government. For a start, he is from Malawi. He is an ex terrorist and is obsessed with keeping himself and his government in power. Nothing else matters to him. His corrupt ways have ruined the once prosperous country. The vast majority of Zimbabwe citizens live in fear of Mugabe's soldiers who terrorise and commit acts of atrocity to keep their leader in power. The people are afraid to vote for any opposition parties because their lives are threatened by Mugabe's forces if they show favour to a party of their choice. I cannot stress enough, the urgency with which world pressure needs to be placed on Mugabe's government, for them to stand down so that a democratic government can be installed.
If the human rights of the people of
Zimbabwe are to be respected, then
the government of Zimbabwe must be
made accountable and answerable to
its people. If, instead, the government
of Zimbabwe is forced to be accountable
to foreign powers like Britain flexing their
muscles, it would be a step back
Mugabe is playing on the fact that if you put sanctions on Zimbabwe, the ordinary people suffer and then he will look blameless. He knows that sanctions will not stop him in his bid for power so why do the world powers think that they can force him to do as they say? This man is not afraid to spill blood in order to get what he wants.
It also involves the resolution of the unfinished job by those who brought the independence of Zimbabwe into being, especially as it relates to the thorny issues of land redistribution against the present situation in which the minority white farmers own the best chunk of the arable lands. So, Mugabe must be handled with tact and understanding.
You are judged by the company
you keep. It is surely time for Britain to reassess whether we should continue to confer respectability on these nations by our membership
of the commonwealth. We as a nation, certainly derive no benefit from it and serve only to provide a smoke
screen for the tyranny and corruption practiced by the majority of them.
The idea of sanctions on Zimbabwe are as unbearable as their effects may be to the already suffering Zimbabwean. The EU should go about assisting more the people of Zimbabwe with food health and especially education programs; which Mr Mugabe seems to know very little about. And when Mugabe undoubtedly falls the Mugabe treasure chest must be seized and returned to the peoples coffers.
A Taylor, Scotland
Imposing sanctions didn't have any profound effect on Saddam Hussein and Mugabe is likely to remain similarly unmoved. Sanctions will merely hurt the people of Zimbabwe - and they're certainly not in any immediate position to change the way Mugabe conducts himself. I'd be inclined to offer Zimbabweans the help they need to resolve the Mugabe problem, but sanctions would not be a part of it. If Jack Straw wants to make himself useful, he and others should be looking for a more practical, perhaps more direct solution, involving Mugabe rather than Zimbabwe.
For so long the West have threatened Mugabe and his cohorts will face targeted sanctions such as freezing their foreign accounts. Obviously they prepared him, by giving him advance notice, to arrange to repatriate those funds out of the reach of the West. What a hypocrisy! Why not freeze the accounts without warning and unfreeze them when satisfactory change has occurred? The answer is, as the song goes, ...blowing in the wind.
How many times have we made this mistake? Don't we ever learn? Sanctions only hurt the poor they have little or no effect on the politicians responsible for the decisions. When will our stupid politicians realise what they are doing. Or maybe they do realise but don't care.
If you think it is only the western world that is worried about Mugabe's antics, think again. He is de-stabilizing the region of southern Africa and Mbeki is also aware and rightfully very worried about the effect this will have on Africa as a whole.
To all you who support Mugabe without probably having ever been to Zimbabwe and seen the average man on the street unable to afford to feed himself or his family, begging for food, you really should open your eyes to what is actually happening. I have family there and have seen it myself!
Mugabe needs to go. Simple.
A strong and compassionate ruler who cares for Zimbabweans needs to replace him. One who will deal with the underlying fundamental problems that plague Zimbabwe and Africa for that matter, not someone who is purely interested in personal wealth and power.
Kuda K Chikanya, Watford, UK
Sanctions? What a waste of time, money, and political hot air. Sanctions will do nothing for Zimbabwe. Anything that the International community would want to keep out of that country can simply be smuggled in across its neighbouring borders. Once again the privileged few are preaching on how a country should run itself and treat it's people and of course nothing substantial will get done because the member nations will squabble amongst themselves over who should do what and where. All the while yet another country will buckle under the will of one man in a position of power, simply because nobody has the stomach to confront wicked evildoers on their own terms. If the International community really wants to get involved then it should, but only if it is willing to fully commit (not at all likely with all the interest involved), otherwise it would be wise not to stick its nose where it isn't welcome.
You have no idea what sort of a man you a dealing with. All this talk of "smart sanctions" will not stop him, he is on a mission, a mission to win the presidential elections, and will drag the entire country down with him if he has to. The only people who are going to feel the effects of any sanctions are the poor oppressed masses of Zimbabwe.
Having lived in Zim half my life (I still have siblings within Zimbabwe) I truly feel that call for sanctions is right. But unfortunately, I think that Mugabe is on the brink of a huge chasm and sanctions would push him into it, to the detriment of the Zimbabweans. Something should have been done about the man and his radical policies years ago.
The question which I would like to ask is "Why is the Western World only now realising what Mugabe is?" Surely the UN should have realised years ago that in Zimbabwe the ordinary person has never had human rights under Mugabe.
Andy, UK (ex ZIM)
Sanctions or no sanctions - it is time Zimbabwean people stood up
for themselves, and of course with some help from international and continental communities.
Sanctions should be imposed on Mugabe and his henchmen. It is time the people of Zimbabwe
realised that Mugabe had no interest whatsoever in that country and its people. All he was
ever interested in was to push his own agenda, that is to rob people of their freedom and drain
the country dry. Moreover he is not a Zimbabwean - is he really Malawian or is he Mozambican??
He is worse than foreigners who cheated African countries out of their wealth. The real Zimbabweans
need to unite and remove him from power and, with the help of international communities, strip him
of all his assets inside and outside the country. I bet all the money that they (him and his cronies)
have stashed outside the country can pay off the IMF debt, feed the Zimbabwean people, resurrect the
economy, rebuild the education and health system and provide social welfare for all the disadvantaged.
He has absolutely lost the plot - what about the future generation - what will happen to them if he
takes the country to his grave - which certainly looks like where things are going. There is no room for
dictatorship in this century.
He should be retired, given a small pension and let him live in the rural areas to enjoy the rest of his days.
Having watched the situation in Zimbabwe very closely, and have been following the debate on whether or not to impose sanctions. The International Community, and in particular, Britain, need to be very careful about the way in which they handle Mugabe over the next 6 weeks. On one hand, if sanctions are imposed, Mugabe may take it that he is a pariah, and he's got nothing to lose by stealing the election. If sanctions are not imposed, he'll reckon that he's going to get away with it, and steal the election.
Maybe the threat of sanctions in this situation would be more influential than sanctions themselves.
Whatever the conclusion, something needs to be done about Mugabe. Zimbabweans are not in a situation to help themselves - the world needs to make an example of this man to show others like him that this sort of thing can not and will not be accepted.
I was made to feel so welcome by the Zimbabweans when I visited, you couldn't wish to meet a more generous and friendly bunch of people, so it seems a great shame they feel so resigned to the fact that many of their lives are falling apart, either due to the economy collapsing or the underlying fear of the violence of the tiny minority of Mugabe's thugs. I think the typical personality of the Zimbabweans is not one of fighting or confrontation to force change; but to unwillingly accept their fate. If this was happening in west Africa I'm sure the population would have revolted by now. Sanctions will not work, as they will only make the citizens suffer more; and Mugabe doesn't give a monkeys about them. He is just interested in his own power and creaming off what he can for himself. The only real solution is for the people of Zimbabwe to stand together and try and remove Mugabe from power themselves, I can't see international intervention really doing much good as its often dangerous for other countries to start tampering and taking sides.
Unfortunately Mugabe is becoming rather a symptomatic African leader, only interested in his own power and wealth and uncaring for his people. Zambia seemed to be suffering in a similar way with an election with very dubious results and the outgoing president a billionaire in a country with an average annual income of £300.
Living in a country with almost similar conditions as Zimbabwe, I think that by imposing economic sanctions on Zimbabwe is a very bad and stupid idea!!. Who are you trying to punish? The Mugabe government or the poor people of Zimbabwe and the rest of Southern Africa as well. The only people that will feel the effects of the sanctions will be the ordinary people on the street. Look at Iraq and Cuba, years of economic sanctions did not remove the present governments, it only made them stronger as they were able to survive. Sanctions can only work if the whole countries abide by it, which is almost impossible as there is something called the black market that gives governments under sanctions a life line, as business with these countries become very profitable, due to the high demands for certain goods.
So this whole issue of sanctions is a waste of time and a killer of the innocent.
If you want to change something in the world today, you got to put muscle behind your words.
I think Smart sanctions could be very effective. If illegal funds have been transferred to 'rogue' countries' banks then they should be treated similarly. The huge effort which is on-going re: terrorist and criminal financial matters should include these countries where the governments are stealing from the people.
Of course sanctions should be taken against Zimbabwe. The sanctions, however, should be directed mainly at Mugabe, i.e. freezing his overseas bank accounts. Suspending Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth would also be a good move, mainly because it would ensure that Mugabe lost "face" - apparently he thinks a lot about being in the Commonwealth. Zimbabwe is one of the few African states that still has a framework to build upon. Take the framework away and, in a couple of years' time, we'll be dropping aid packages to stop the entire population from starving. Ideally, the UN should move in and monitor the elections.
Any noble and right thinking Zimbabwean will say no to Sanctions and I am no exception.
Its a bit late now - this has been coming for a while. Yet again the inability of the aid sector to stand up to corruption has led to Mugabe being driven into a corner where he cannot give up power for fear of being held responsible for all the money and land he has acquired over the years.
It looks to be heading for civil war, which is terribly sad for such a beautiful country. Unfortunately all over Africa we see these corrupt politicians and leaders, and they are just allowed to get away with it. The trouble comes when their own power base is threatened.
Isn't it about time we branded Mugabe and his henchmen as terrorists? Just like the Taleban in Afghanistan they have mismanaged a once beautiful country and ruined the economy. In the 20 plus years they have been in power they have looted the country and stashed their ill gotten gains in offshore accounts around the world. It is time for justice!!!!
I was sad when I read the story about the family in Bindura, whose son was bitten and killed by Mugabe's supporters. The reason why Mugabe is letting the Zimbabwean people suffer so much is because he does not care about them. After all he is from Malawi, not Zimbabwe. The Zimbabwean people need a Zimbabwean president that will care about the country and it's people.
Sanctions would be the best thing for Zimbabwe at the moment as the people can't stand up for themselves. And since they are letting Mugabe walk all over them what choice is there? People still living in Zimbabwe are to scared to stand up and protect their country and are frightened for their lives. Which brings me to the so called 'Free and fair elections' PLEASE, what a joke!!! Mugabe will never let it be free and fair. Maybe when people have to fight for food will they stand-up and say 'NO' to Mugabe and his goon's but that will never happen!!! Guess it's goodbye to a Great country!!!
Mugabe is desperate to keep his reign. But he is just as desperate to give it a mask of legitimacy. This is basically a positive sign: The times are gone where dictators could go on and on without caring to justify their own rule. I think there is no turning back: He may stay in power this time, but next time he will fail because he let himself be drawn into the game of legitimacy. He will fail like Milosevic did, and with him other dictators will fall.
The claim that the West is concerned about democracy and human rights in Zimbabwe is absolutely absurd. If the West is really concerned, why don't they intervene in many countries in Latin America, Indonesia, Arab states of the Persian Golf and many more around the world that are strongly supported by the West and are ruled by corrupt regimes.
The West has only one reason for intervention in Zimbabwe, they do not want an African Cuba in the form of Zimbabwe. I fully support Robert Mugabe and his policies and wish him success.
Knowing what the world community should do in the case of Robert Mugabe and his cronies should not be a hard decision when viewed in the context of how much misery and suffering he has caused to thousands of people black or white.
People that use legacies of past injustices to vilify the present are feeding the eternal wheels of conflict.
Let us decide once and for all what constitutes human injustice and deal with it once & for all through a legitimate body like the UN.
Maybe then we will focus on building a better future for all.
Arif Sayed, Dubai, UAE
There is a certain irony in the European Union lecturing Zimbabwe on democracy. The phrase 'physician heal thyself' comes to mind. Nevertheless I trust that the Commonwealth can rise to the occasion and help to isolate Mugabe.
As an adult living ten years under the Smith administration, ten years, under the Mugabe administration, and the last ten years in Canada, I have experienced three totally different styles of Governance. Sanctions did not have a huge initial effect during the Rhodesian era; in fact in many ways it strengthened the economy. Its previous reliance on imports from the outside world forced local industry and government to unite and become innovative to survive. Under the current regime, direct sanctions will, I believe weaken an already struggling commercial, industrial and dare I say it, agricultural sector desperately trying to service the general population.
Mugabe has gone far beyond the stage that he cares what happens to the country and its people as long as his corrupt circle of hierarchy retain power at all cost. Over the years, he has made sure that they have as much to lose as he has should he not retain the presidency. "Smart sanctions," against him and his party members will go a long way to restrict their movements, however if they haven't moved their accumulated wealth by now to some untouchable friendly Middle Eastern country (Libya) I would be surprised. At the very least the world should apply smart sanctions now, not wait until the Commonwealth meeting in March.
The history of sanctions around the world is not a positive answer. It will not be the best scenario for Zimbabwe now. It will sway the people of Zimbabwe after Mugabe, and that is what he wants. Let the international community not fall for this trap. There are better options of dealing with Zimbabwe. He can be isolated without hurting the people of Zimbabwe.
Can an African own land in Britain the way the British are owning land in Zimbabwe? Leave Mugabe alone, he wants land for his people and not for the colonialists. Africans have suffered long enough and now it is payback time. Let's talk about slavery as a crime against humanity and how the West can payback. Don't just look at one side of the coin.
Sanctions: Remember all the fuss over sanctions against the apartheid governments in the eighties? It can be said that once they were implemented, they did contribute to bringing about peaceful change here in South Africa.
The Mugabe regime is showing the same despotic symptoms as the Botha regime mid-80's, so there is no reason why the same sanctions logic can not be applied. It could be one factor in bringing about peaceful change.
Regarding the land issue, yes, it needs to be properly and justly addressed. But we need a process. In South Africa, we have such an inclusive process to deal with the issue properly and fairly and this takes time.
This is not happening in Zimbabwe. Mugabe is using (or more correctly abusing) the land issue for his benefit. The ordinary people continue to suffer.
Why bother imposing sanctions? Zimbabwe has done a fine enough job of imposing sanctions of themselves. By disrupting the production of export crops and other means of earning foreign currencies they have already effectively isolated themselves. Let them continue with their current policies and see what comes of that without sanctions.
Sanctions will only worsen the situation. Are there no other options? If yes they need to be explored.
I weep when I see what those men have done to us! They got into office and suddenly became monsters! They brought Southern Africa to its knees. Zimbabweans must not let their thirst for land blind them to the fact that peace, democracy and development remain superior in importance to land!
What's the use of having land when your economy faces the prospect of isolation or when democracy denied? Help us revive the dream that once was Mother Africa!
The power is in your hands, Zimbabweans.
I find it interesting that most of the comments are from people that have never visited or lived in Zimbabwe. We left Zimbabwe during the late 80's as we did not agree with Mugabe's policies. I count ourselves lucky as we had a choice to leave. The people who remained stayed because they wanted to, stayed because they had no skills and could not immigrate, or they stayed because they are Zimbabweans, and they felt that there was a bright future in front of the nation.
What nobody counted on was the huge rape and pillage that the ZANU-PF and Mugabe have forced on his people. I feel that some form of sanctions should be placed against the Mugabe regime and its political party to give the ordinary man on the street the satisfaction of seeing Mugabe suffering like they do everyday. I find it amazing that the so-called liberation war was to liberate the nation - instead they have landed with a president who was far worse that Smith.
Andrew Jackson, Reno, USA
Forget EU sanctions - Zimbabwe is not a member of the EU and it has no common policy to deal with this problem. International action should come via the UN and more importantly the Commonwealth. If the Commonwealth fails to act then it has failed as a body. This is not about the rights of white ownership of land (if it ever was) but about a small group of people using and abusing power.
Mugabe is clearly trying to stay in power however he can. Although I am always opposed to sanctions the international community has got to help to make sure that the elections there in March are free and fair. I was in Zimbabwe in July and August and the people there were ready to rough out whatever was necessary in order to get rid of Mugabe. Their lives have already been so negatively affected by life under Mugabe that they said they were willing to have things get worse (by having international sanctions and whatever it takes to get him out) in order for things to get better and for Mugabe's reign to end.
Mugabe was a tyrant in the 70s and 80s. So why are we surprised of his actions today?
If the US and the EU can target the bank accounts of terrorist groups and collaborating individuals and halt flights for Gaddaffi, Sadam Hussein and Milosovich surely they can do the same to Mr Mugabe and his ministers. The problem would then be to ensure that they do not take it out on their own people.
Christophe Van Gampelaere, New York, USA
It is time for sanctions on Mugabe and his close accomplices. Not against innocent Zimbabweans. This type of demonic and selfish behaviour cannot be allowed to continue in Africa. When will Mugabe come to his senses from his drunkenness for power? Hopefully when sanctions are on his table he will stop harassing innocent citizens of Zimbabwe. Maybe he will be civilised.
Colin, Stuttgart, Germany
Everyone has to realise that Mugabe's targeting of white farmers in Zimbabwe has just been a ploy to mask the opposition. Land reform has been an effective way to tie the hands of what has become the most effective opposition to Mugabe in recent years. Once he's elected he'll drop the land issue, remove the war veterans from the white farmers' land and let them continue to be productive members of Zimbabwean society. Mugabe's motivation is not justice for his people but merely to grasp power once again. Mugabe is appealing to the basest forms of political manipulation. What profit is there in harassing a group of fellow Zimbabweans who happen to be white? He's just a desperate man who doesn't know when to retire.
Why impose sanctions? Just stop foreign aid to Zimbabwe. Why on earth does the west persist in this guilt trip with Africa? These countries have been independent for decades. Let them sort out their own (and almost entirely self made problems). Until Mugabe declared his war against white Zimbabweans, the country exported food. Now it expects the west to prop it up? Not a chance.
Let's stop this hypocrisy now. What did Abacha do in Nigeria that Mugabe hasn't done in Zimbabwe? Why wait until this despote has ruined all his country before thinking of sanctions?
Zimbabwe is a sovereign state and member of the United Nations. Interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign state is against international law. The Zimbabwean government is recognised as legitimate by the UN because it wields power. In order to retain sovereignty and legitimacy within the artificial, colonial, yet sacrosanct boundaries of many African and other states, it is necessary to demonstrate power, often by killing or starving large numbers of people. The international community can help in this task by imposing sanctions. Mr Mugabe will get away with the destruction of his country and the murder of its inhabitants, as did Idi Amin, Pol Pot, Saddam Hussein and his friend Haile Mariam of Ethiopia. The United Nations will ensure that condemnations will become ritualised and ineffective. No country, not even South Africa has been thrown out of the world body. In short, there is nothing to be done about Mr Mugabe. He is a creature of the UN system, as is his country.
Tim Mbanga, Atlanta, GA, USA
Comments on the success of sanctions always take Iraq as a negative sample. The success of sanctions against the apartheid South African regime seems to have been forgotten.
It has been with great dismay that I have watched the events of the past years unfold in my childhood home of Zimbabwe. If ever sanctions were not only justified but also essential to bring about change in Zimbabwe, it is now. Mugabe's one man, one vote, one-time style of "democracy" has outlasted its shelf life by about 20 years. North Americans and people in general are so busy dealing with their own lives that news about countries like Zimbabwe just becomes background noise. Governments are needed to bring about change. Sanctions on Zimbabwe and immediate exclusion from the Commonwealth are two changes that will create an environment needed before any progress can be made. Perhaps then a responsible government which has been fairly elected, will start to repair the damage of 20 years of systematic plunder.
Zimbabwe is in chaos at the moment, and who as usual will have to bail them out financially? Europe and America. I read from other people's columns that they blame colonialism for Zimbabwe's woes now. How is it then that Robert Mugabe and his cronies have the best land in the country. The average black man in the street has nothing compared to him. That is not because of colonialism but through greed and power. Zimbabwe might be a independent country with a so called elected leader but that is pretty obvious when all the opposition is being murdered.
The war veterans are not freedom fighters as they claim, I think some of the 18 year olds who have been plundering the farms weren't even born when Mugabe came to power. It is time for Africa to sort out its own problems. The EU and America should ignore Zimbabwe and see what happens. To those people in Zimbabwe who complain so much about Europe meddling in its affairs just have look at the mobile phones you own and the cars you drive and ask yourself one question. Are they not made in Europe? I hope that democracy will prevail in Zimbabwe but that is pretty difficult when it is effectively a one party state.
Archie, London, UK
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