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Wednesday, 13 March, 2002, 16:08 GMT
Zimbabwe: Will the Commonwealth deal work?

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Commonwealth leaders have agreed to set up a three-member body to consider measures against Zimbabwe.

Under a deal reached at talks in Australia, the committee will be made up of Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, his South African counterpart Thabo Mbeki, and Australian Prime Minister John Howard.

The leaders will decide on any possible action to take against Zimbabwe based on the findings of the group's election observers deployed in the country.

Although the three-member body will have the power to suspend Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth, there is no commitment to any particular action even if the poll on 9-10 March is not free and fair.

Do you think that the Commonwealth body will help to resolve the turmoil in Zimbabwe? Should sanctions still be imposed against the country?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Your reaction

The Commonwealth is incapable of doing anything constructive and is beneath contempt

Graham McDonald, USA
Britain is directly responsible for the disaster that is Zimbabwe and should pay out those who have been and are being robbed of their property by Mugabe and his thugs. The Commonwealth is incapable of doing anything constructive and is beneath contempt. Zimbabwe is, tragically, descending into the primitive pit from which it came a hundred years ago and, as a best scenario, will be another Zambia or Malawi type backwater, dependant on world handouts to survive. What a sad descent in only 22 years.
Graham McDonald, USA

If Mugabe and his henchmen want Britain out of this country so badly, fine. The less we hear of it the better; more time and money to focus on our own problems. Remove all aid and farming technology; remove all currency flowing between our countries; remove all foreign aid. If this is what these people want, let them find their own way out of starvation, war and exponential unsustainability. Only don't expect Britain to come running when - as history has shown in such circumstances - the rains don't come and the very few crops that there are dry up and go rotten. If it's a self-made hell they want then they're well on their way to creating it. The "blame the white-owned institutions" excuses won't wash then.
William, UK

We in Zimbabwe are doomed for chaos in an even larger extent to what it has been as of late

John, Zimbabwe
I read with utter dismay some of the letters posted here. I understand that a lot of people who have written do not have a clue about Zimbabwe We in Zimbabwe are doomed for chaos in an even larger extent to what it has been as of late.

The indication that " ... it should be solved by Zimbabweans", is accepted and so it should be. However, Zimbabweans, who would like to see change and betterment of their daily lives and that of their families and relatives, have been deprived of exercising their constitutional right, over the so-called last three days of elections. Apart from being in queues for hours no end, a great majority of Zimbabweans did not vote simply because they were not meant to, as it had already been "agreed" upon on a strategy so well orchestrated by the ruling ZANU PF party, who knew from the onset that if they did not do anything of that calibre, they would not be voted in again! It is a sad state of affairs where the majority may have to live another 6 years under the existing system, facing brutality, famine, death, inconsistencies on law and order to mention a few.

I am of the opinion and always have been for that matter, that from the time Zimbabwe attained its independent status, it has been ruled by what I can describe a "mob of violators of their own laws" and a "gang" of ruthless individuals who only think of themselves and nobody else. Remember the days of the USSR, Pinochet, Tito and others? Well ... how do other people expect the Zimbabweans to solve their own problems when these are "man made" by their own compatriots in power?

Take a look at the reports coming in from observers, some polling agents and even the "Director" of the Elections himself when he indicated that comments would be forthcoming after other parties had made their observations. I can foresee a lot happening in our country within the next 2 weeks or so. There will be riots; (these will be arranged by the ruling party at the expense of the opposition, as it has been the case in some issues), simply to get an excuse to get rid of a lot of people and mass destruction of human lives! At this stage, there's no plausible solution and the United Nations will have to intervene, as it has been the case in a number of African countries. A very unfortunate state of affairs created by the same people who claim to have the country and its people at heart!

Zimbabweans have been denied their willingness to express themselves through the ballot box, by the Party in Power, through a well-orchestrated manoeuvre which they think we and the International community at large will all "buy". Urgent measures are needed now to avoid a bloodbath of innocent lives both in the country and all our neighbouring countries.
John, Zimbabwe

It is up to Zimbabweans to sort him out

C. Chiedozi, UK
Mugabe has done wrong by his people in many ways but that is NOT Britain's business. It is up to Zimbabweans to sort him out. If they did not support him he could not rule them save with a much more powerful police apparatus than he can afford as of now. His greatest sin against his people is that he has not sorted the land issue one way or another until now. It should have been his number one priority!
C. Chiedozi, UK

The peace-keeping/ monitoring function of the Commonwealth and UN presence in Zimbabwe is crucial. It is an historical expectation held strongly by the Zimbabweans I am in contact with. Whether or not the Commonwealth deal will work will depend on Blair, Howard and others; they must stand by their promises made to protect people staying to build Zimbabwe.
Ruth Smith, Perth, Australia

I work in a central London teaching hospital. Approximately 20% of our unit's (Cardio-thoracic Intensive Care) workforce come from Africa and approx 5% from Zimbawe. I hear their families' stories every day, the fear they all live in .The nurses I work with have families in the regions who vote against Mugabe. They tell me the horrific stories of the ways they have been persecuted. They live in fear for their families and their survival.
Branita Mills, Great Britain

Having just watched tonight's "Panorama" programme about the UK and especially the UK Foreign Office's undeniable incompetence in not condemning and stopping the murderous actions of Robert Mugabe's 5th Brigade in the 1980's against the Matebele, I felt revulsion that Geoffrey Howe and Governor Ewins were representatives of my country. Surely these people should be brought to book for condoning what amounts to UK sponsored terrorism? We should all be ashamed of ourselves by association.
Geoff Davies, England

I think for the people of Zimbabwe it is a choice between a leader that will stand up to the west or a leader who will be a puppet to the west. If I were a Zimbabwian I'd know who I would vote for
Marie Fresher, UK

It's high time all of us - black or white - stuck to the rules of good governance. The first thing the whole world must realise is that nobody is indispensable. Once a leader has ruled for a maximum of ten years, let another person be given the chance to rule. Secondly, we should all realise that our world is a global village and so, as a system, whatever happens to any part of it is bound to impact upon the other parts/countries. Consequently, I see nothing bad if interventions have to be sought and even supported to let peace reign in our world, Zimbabwe inclusive. The law abiding people of Zimbabwe deserve justice now.
J. Babarinde, Nigeria

African countries should pull out of the commonwealth.

Toyin Abdul-Kareem, Canada
I seriously think African countries should pull out of the commonwealth. I mean, why are we a part of this organization or are we masochistic in that we want to be reminded of the British lording over us? Let the British reminisce about their dead empire by themselves.
Toyin Abdul-Kareem, Canada

The main problem facing Africans and Africa at large is lack of creativity. We complain so much, we are experts at figuring out what the problems are but we never come up with any solutions. Africa's problem is not the West, but rather it's very own leaders, like Idi Amin and Mobutu to mention a few.

As for those people who say that the West should stop mingling in Africa's affairs, I find that argument very absurd, because if the West indeed stopped mingling in African affairs, millions of Africans would starve to death - since they would be missing out on the foreign aid. The unfortunate fact we as Africans must accept is that we can do little without the aid we get from the West. We essentially depend on Western aid to run the entire African continent (especially in Sub-Saharan Africa)and to add insult to injury most of the aid is basically wasted by corrupt officials instead of using it on issues like Education and health that would help us become more self-reliant. So for those of you Africans who say that the West ought to back off, I would challenge you to revisit your thought.

In Africa we need to educate ourselves so as to enable us manage our continent better, control our escalating population and improve our health. In my opinion, the problem is not with the West, but with Africans themselves. We, as Africans have created almost all the problems that exist on our continent, unfortunately, we have miserably failed to reverse that creativity so as to come up with solutions to the problems that we have created.
Mayanja Sseruwo, Uganda

Two well respected black men have commented on Mugabe. Desmond Tutu said he was "bonkers" and Nelson Mandela advised him to "leave gracefully". I respect both men who have real experiences. They do not live in comfortable homes in western lands. Sorry folks its is not about race, Mugabe has fooled you all.
Andy S, Zimbabwe

I wonder why there are no strong people-oriented opposition groups

Omeni, London, UK
As a Zimbabwean I feel tougher action should be taken against Mugabe and his cronies. He thinks he is a Demi-god and needs strong discipline.
Sophie Jassat, Canada

I've read most of the views expressed which range from the absurd to the naive. Having suffered prolonged military dictatorships in Nigeria, I am strongly against Mugabe's plan for 'life-presidency'. But then I look to his opposition and all I can see is a stooge. If Tsvangirai wins this election through massive support by the West and white Zimbabweans then that's all he can be. I strongly condemn violence, but issues about land end up violent if not addressed properly. The land re-distribution in Zimbabwe should be properly addressed if the West expects other African leaders to support them. I wonder why there are no strong people-oriented opposition groups. If anyone bothers to look at the issues from independence, it is clear that the West is as always adopting a double standard.
Omeni, London, UK

Unfortunately we will never get a true view from a web page, because as was mentioned before by someone, 98% of the people affected haven't got Internet access. It's funny that many comments on this page want the British to keep out of Zimbabwe's affairs, but they still want foreign aid. Strange, isn't? Back on topic, sanctions won't help the situation at all.
Gareth, UK, ex-Zimbabwean

The commonwealth countries are not prepared to face the starving people of Zimbabwe who are suffering because of the Mugabe's policies. They have betrayed the black Zimbabweans who lost their jobs and their freedom and are being tortured in camps set up by Robert Mugabe. It is not racism that has caused this, it is Robert Mugabe's quest to hold onto his riches at any cost to the people of Zimbabwe.

This problem in Zimbabwe is real. Democracy has really gone. Please believe me. People have no jobs, no money, no homes, no food and they are being murdered if anyone says anything against this tyrant. When a country gives money to help the real people that need it, it goes to bank accounts owned by Mugabe and does not touch the dust in Zimbabwe. I wish that my African brothers would support us against further violence. Members of my family have been beaten by Mugabe's thugs and escaped but next time they will not be so lucky.
Seemore Reason, Zimbabwe

It is their country and no puffing and blowing by the likes of Blair will change this

Alan, London, UK
So it appears that Blair is upset about Mugabe! Hmmm, sorry to hear about that. Tony Blair has nothing to contribute to this argument. Yes, Mugabe's tactics are pretty rough but as someone who left Rhodesia in 1970 I saw the light then! So why there are still whites who cling on there I cannot comprehend. It is their country and no puffing and blowing by the likes of Blair will change this. For decades the countries of Africa have been blighted by the scourge of 'one party democracies' and the like. Yet they all pitch up to the Commonwealth conferences and shake hands with the Queen. Mugabe is just one of many who have milked the system and the bank coffers dry over the years.
Alan, London, UK

Sanctions imposed by the Commonwealth will only fuel hatred toward the West. Any pressure should come from Mugabe's African peers. Elections in Africa affect the people far more than elections in Europe. In Africa a new government could literally mean the difference between life and death, with emotions and fear playing such a big part it is unlikely that even a monitored election would be without violence and intimidation.

It's high time all of us-black or white-sticked to the rules of good governance. The first thing the whole world must realise is that nobody is indispensable. Once a leader has ruled for a maximum of ten years, let another person be given the chance to rule. Secondly, we should all realise that our world is a global village, and so as a system, whatever happens to any part of it is bound to impact upon the other parts/countries. Consequently, I see nothing bad if interventions have to be sought and even supported to let peace reign in our world, Zimbabwe inclusive. The law-abiding people of Zimbabwe deserve justice now.
J.Babarinde, Nigeria

The ultimate loser is the country itself

Pete in Oz, Rhodesia
Sanctions, who will win the election, what the Commonwealth will do - all of this is irrelevant. The ultimate loser is the country itself. The countryside is being stripped and the fauna decimated by an exploding population. Perhaps it would be best if we simply closed all the gates and let it get back into balance - as it was 200 years ago.
Pete in Oz, Rhodesia

In a soccer match we need referees to see to it that it's a fair game, but remove the referee and see the amount of turmoil that will occur. The same as in Zimbabwe, Mugabe is more of a player unto all players. He says there is no such thing as offside on his half, he has removed the penalty spot on his half and says the game ends when his side is tired. Zimbabweans are helpless back home, SADC has simply watched our game over television and haven't said much to our rescue now the Commonwealth has seen the plight of the Zimbabweans and as far as I'm concerned our only hope of survival for our once vibrant economy. We vote over the weekend and god knows the outcome. The sanctions I believe are meant to force Mugabe to work with the constitution he swore to uphold. Individual sanctions, yes. Zimbabwe will not die!
Kobulawayo, Zimbabwean in the UK

Britain has nothing to do with Zimbabwe. Let Zimbabweans decide their own affairs.
Moges Mekonnen, Australia

Mugabe has a heart, and his heart is for the African people

J Kottey, USA
Mugabe has a heart, and his heart is for the African people. He is not perfect, but he wants to push out the remnants of Colonization which other African leaders are to feeble to do.
J Kottey, USA

I've experienced living in Zimbabwe for more than five years and I know what is going there; what I saw there must be changed. If I were a Zimbabwean citizen I would have voted 10 times for Mr Mugabe in order to help him make changes now. This is why I beg the leaders of the West, mainly the UK and Australia, for the sake of God to leave Zimbabweans decide their future by themselves.
Diallo Mamadou Hady, Guinea

Mugabe has taken just 22 years to bring Zimbabwe to its needs, destroy any form of Rule of Law, and has destroyed any vestige of democracy. Mbeki doesn't see the irony of espousing the "African Renaissance" while at the same time defending Mugabe and his henchmen. The lack of guts shown by the Commonwealth and the SADC has put back Africa's growth and future prosperity by another 30 years. The old "Rhodies" must be having a chuckle and saying "I told you so". African leaders are their own and their people's worst enemies. They have no one but themselves to blame.
Sobeit, South Africa

The world needs to step in and help the people of Zimbabwe. They have nowhere but the outside world to turn to for help. Many people are being murdered for their beliefs. How can we sit back and watch this happen? Something needs to be done NOW.
C. Hayes, UK,

Has everyone forgotten that this man is responsible for the murder and torture of thousands of Black Zimbabweans?

Dilip, USA
My family still lives in Zimbabwe and they live in fear because of this tin pot dictator. Has everyone forgotten that this man is responsible for the murder and torture of thousands of Black Zimbabweans? How can anyone think this criminal is a hero? The Commonwealth leaders have proved that they have weak and gutless members amongst them. They should have sent a strong message to Mugabe, years ago. What you now see is a direct result of their inaction.
Dilip, USA

It is really funny that the British government finds so much to cry about in Zimbabwe, while the Human rights situation and democracy is equally appalling in china, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia etc. But because Britain has its own selfish interests in these regions, hence nothing is spoken about these regions. Or does Britain only speak about sins while in the commonwealth forum. It is like a big washing stone where linens are cleaned.
Staju Jacob, India.

Yared, if all we care about is our own interests, why do the western powers hand out millions of dollars in aid to African nations. You have made a mighty statement, but the truth is, without western money and investment, Africa will suffer. And for somebody who comes from Eritrea you should know what years of war and famine do to people. If somebody in Britain were to talk about repatriation of African immigrants, he or she would immediately be branded a Neo Nazi Bigot, the same comment works both ways.
D Walton, UK

It seems that Mr Blair is not the only person suffering from a colonial hangover

S. Prakash, UK
It seems that Mr Blair is not the only person suffering from a colonial hangover. Britain should seek to put its house in order first. Proven allegations of electoral fraud against Lady Porter (Currently in Israel) still await enforcement. Electoral irregularities have also been observed in the US presidential elections. I hear no clamour from the above-mentioned states to impose sanctions. Whilst I have very little sympathy for Mr Mugabe, the current campaign against Zimbabwe led by Britain seems to be racist - pure and simple. If it were not, why would only for of the 50 countries representing Asia, West Indies & Africa push for sanctions? And these four are all white, established on land grabbed from native peoples. If you need proof of this one only look at the way Britain and Australia treat refugees.
S. Prakash, UK

The sight of so many national leaders wringing their hands in unison is sure to bring Mugabe to his senses.
John B, UK

Britain and its allies have shown arrogance beyond explanation in dealing with Zimbabwe. In 1994 nobody talked of sanctions in the South African vote in spite of the violence which killed more than 1000 people. In the Ian Smith era Britain supported him and - guess - again no sanctions. For me and most of Africans Robert Mugabe is a hero. One of few African leaders who can stand up against bullies and their double standard democracy.
Ahmed Mussa, Stockholm Sweden

Why is Britain refusing to honour the Lacanster Agreement?

Rhuloph, Zimbabwe
Why is Britain refusing to honour the Lacanster Agreement? Tony Blair is the one who's caused all this mess! We wouldn't have any of these squabbles, political parties like the MDC etc. Our country is so wonderful that we could get many tourists come and admire our natural resources (like the Victoria Falls, the Kariba Dam etc.) It's Blair who is causing all these mess. They should have been discussing much important issues concerning the Commonwealth member countries - e.g., AIDS, poverty reduction, economic concerns.
Rhuloph, Zimbabwe

It's interesting to remember that in 1980, the Rhodesian Army planned a coup if Mugabe came to power on the back of a rigged election, (which he did, largely thanks to the Commonwealth Monitoring Force). However, such was the (Rhodesian) Army's innate respect for the rule of law that it didn't happen. It is strange that the Rhodesian Army was seen as the bad guys, and yet they did the honourable thing. If we (the UK in particular) had been more willing to cut Ian Smith some slack at the time, then maybe an honourable power-sharing scheme with Bishop Muzorewa could have been hammered out. After all, ZANU/PF gained no victories on the battlefield, and had the war gone on for another year, they may well have been destroyed utterly. In the long run, maybe it's a shame that didn't happen
Mark Rotherham, UK

There is no way Obasanjo and Mbeki would want any action taken against Mugabe, for the reason that they are also likely to be caught up in the same situation and would want to use the same tactics their friend is using. I really question Mbeki's dream of an African renaissance.
Muzeya, UK

I wonder why it was after Mugabe started evicting white farmers that anyone noticed that has been tyrant and a murderer for 20 years - even when the CHOGM was held in Zimbabwe almost ten years back. That seems a little strange to me.
Arize Johnson, USA

The man who can heal this festering sore and topple the tyrant is Thabo Mbeki

Alexander Morrison, U.K. (ex-Zimbabwean)
I agree that intervention seen to be 'European' or 'white' in inspiration can only be counter-productive; it would chime far too well with Mugabe's vicious propaganda that the MDC are colonial stooges. The man who can heal this festering sore and topple the tyrant is a fellow African leader Thabo Mbeki, and he has the perfect excuse. Zimbabwe is dependent on South Africa for a large proportion of its power needs, and has not paid its bills since the troubles began. Enough of this nonsense that Mugabe is working for 'social justice', or trying to right the wrongs of colonialism. One last point: the Matabele only arrived in Zimbabwe 60 years before the first white settlers - are they next on the list when the whites have been expelled?
Alexander Morrison, U.K. (ex-Zimbabwean)

To Mr Tettey in particular. The finger-pointing over land appropriation is pointless, the white farmers made the land what it is. I've seen the farms which were taken over, and nothing has been done with them, the occupiers are simply squatting there waiting for something to miraculously grow itself. Work went into making the "white owned" land better than it originally was. As for an American talking about land appropriation, look up the words "Manifest Destiny" on the Internet and then think about it.
Richard, England

Draconian responses MUST always accompany a leader's deliberate decision to deny open/democratic elections. The form of government is inconsequential. The element of trust in the electorate is paramount.
Emerson, Canada

To my so-called African brothers, I say please stop commenting on issues that you have very little grasp on. The election process has been neither free nor fair in this country. Maybe you all like to live under repressive regimes, but we certainly don't and we say that it is time Mugabe left. What amazes me is how people on this continent have been fooled and roped into a racial debate and sadly this was even taken to the Commonwealth. You only have to pay attention to what people are saying here in Zimbabwe to see that the Harare Declaration has not been upheld at all by this government, and thus suspension from the Commonwealth would be the befitting punishment. What is the commonwealth waiting for, more people to die?
J.T.N, Zimbabwe

About 70% of blacks in Zimbabwe live in the rural "reserves" created by the British settler rule. Almost zero percent of them have access to the Internet. I cannot speak for them because my views do not necessarily coincide with theirs, but this discussion would certainly be totally different if these people were able to contribute and air their views. It is expecting too much of the black people here to go through a "jump gate" and behave exactly as the Europeans in their elections when it took the Europeans many wars (including two savage world wars) for them to reach their present social and political maturity. Please leave us alone! Was slavery and colonialism not enough?
Muramba Nhema, Zimbabwe

What is the democratic principle that Zimbabwe is accused of breaking?

Skeelo, Zimbabwe
What is the democratic principle that Zimbabwe is accused of breaking? I do not believe taking land or stolen property and giving it back to the blacks is breaking principles of democracy. The west will always be viewed as applying double standards as long as they do not relate all their concerns with the Zimbabwean land question. Just like Mugabe had 20 years to solve the land issue, so did Britain and all stake holders - landowners in Zimbabwe.
Skeelo, Zimbabwe

The Commonwealthe should be disbanded. It's just a reminder for the Brits of how great they were. Come of age Tony Blair, nobody needs the Commondwealth.
Amjad Mian, Japan

The Commonwealth is a toothless, guilt-ridden organisation too scared to criticise in case its members are shown up as the hypocrites they are. If not in 1979, the first election of Mugabe would not have been declared free and fair either and we wouldn't be in this situation.
Bradley, South Africa

Mr Tettey, Your view is typically ignorant of Africa's past, present and future. The abject poverty and misery of black Africans under colonialism is nothing to what they experience today.
Bruce Smith, USA

One would think that Mugabe would learn his lessons from Mobutu. A lasting legacy means stepping down for the younger generation. Twenty years of what? Mugabism....
V. Ador, USA

The Commonwealth does not have the capability of solving situations like this one. Sanctions won't help the situation either. They only hurt ordinary people, and not politicians. Zimbabwe should be left alone to sort their own problems out and Europe and the United States should stop foreign aid to that country so that the dictators in power have no finances to fuel their greed.
PhilT, Oman

Ahh! Politics and politicians. If only human life was not at stake

Ian Dunbar, Australia (British Citizen)
As a British, white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant male, I have been brainwashed for the last thirty years by pinko, Gucci-socialists, to believe that my type had the sole preserve on racism. How can it be, then, that the black African leaders in the Commonwealth have repeatedly refused to support sanctions against Zimbabwe? These same leaders were extremely vocal in their support for sanctions against South Africa when the boot was on the other foot. Can I, therefore, assume that fascism is acceptable if white farmers are being murdered in the name of freedom? Or is it a case of blatant hypocrisy? There is only one flaw - Mr. Blair is guilty of Mugabesque dealings. He now drinks tea with members of Sinn Fein/IRA who for thirty years have been carrying out a programme of genocide against Protestant farmers in Northern Ireland's border country, adjacent to the Irish Republic. Ahh! Politics and politicians. If only human life was not at stake.
Ian Dunbar, Australia (British Citizen)

I agree with Wakai of Cameroon. Commonwealth is a joke. Remember the hoolahoo about the Non Alignment Movement. Commonwealth will end up in the same way. Just look at the leaders sitting around the table. And look whom they found to lead the Commonwealth Observer Group. A former dictator who has been found guilty of human rights abuse in Nigeria! This appointment is a reflection of what the Commonwealth has become.
Chinja, USA

Without giving much thought to the situation, my gut reaction to the world response to the situation in Zimbabwe is that it is a joke! This reaction is in response to what has happened to SA, particularly at the hands of "perfidious Albion".
John Wilks, UK

Whilst Tony Blair puffs with moral outrage at Mugabe, he finds no problem sitting next to Uganda's President Museven

Rocco Blume, UK
Double standards? Whilst Tony Blair puffs with moral outrage at Mugabe's clumsy brutality, he finds no problem sitting next to Uganda's President Museveni. If he is unaware, Uganda is currently one of the main protagonists in the war in DR Congo, and its military has been accused by the United Nations of profiting from the plunder of DRCs natural resources. Whilst Britain continues to pick and choose who to accuse of crimes and misdeeds, other African countries will continue to treat these accusations with great caution, as have Nigeria and South Africa.
Rocco Blume, UK

The situation in Zimbabwe can only be solved by Zimbabweans but outside pressure such as sanctions will definitely mark an important chapter in the future of Zimbabwe
Alan Johnson, Zimbabwe

I wonder why the very same countries and people that refused to impose sanctions on the former regime of South Africa now want to impose sanctions on Zimbabwe. These people don't care about the people of Africa, they just care of their interests. Their interests are not ours. If the Whites are not happy living under African rule they are free to leave our continent. Our continent would be better off if more of our leaders had the courage of Mugabe. We don't need the Onkel Toms ruling our continent. The people of Africa need a leadership that defends the interests of our people, not the interests of colonialists and imperialists. All nations of Africa should leave the Commonwealth, and other organisations that are working against our interests, including the UN. I have not meet a single African that wants " actions against Zimbabwe". Any hostile action against Zimbabwe will be a declaration of war against all of Africa.
Yared, Eritrea

I'm not sure how one could ever call the current situation democratic, or even an election

Ian, USA
He is a Zimbabwean President. Presidents get voted in by a democratic election. I'm not sure how one could ever call the current situation democratic, or even an election, for that matter. As an Australian, it would not be wise for you mention land repatriation in Africa. One only needs to look at the Aborigines to see why voicing your opinion in this way is a little hypocritical.
Ian, USA

Will the deal work? I don't thinks so. Mugabe has been running circles around the EU, the Commonwealth and any body he pleases. He has been making everybody jump through hoops from day one. Sure Zimbabwe can be suspended from the commonwealth but what harm will it do to him? He doesn't care he has all the power and wealth that he needs.
Buggyde, UK (ex-Zimbabwean)

There is no doubt that the Commonwealth serves no purpose other than ministers to pat each other on the back and travel to foreign climes. What is disappointing is Mbeki's inactivity in this matter which is symptomatic of his weak leadership overall. Mugabe and his cohorts will hold power for as long as they can while filling their pockets with diamonds taken from Congo. This is not an issue of the west meddling but rather of a small elite asset stripping a country at the expense of a population. Hopefully Mugabe and his cronies will be long gone before Zimbabwe reaches a Congo style situation. Again African leaders have shown themselves incapable of acting against one of their own.
Simon green, UK

Mugabe is just the latest in a long line of African tinpot dictators who have little regard for anyone but their own personal entourages, and will stop at nothing to stay in power. If the west tries to intervene we are accused of meddling, and if we sit back we are accused of being unfeeling. We can't win.
Shaun, Teignmouth UK

Let us give the current decision of the commonwealth leaders a chance

Bernard Imarhiagbe, United Kingdom
The issue of sanctions against Zimbabwe should not be embarked on lightly. Zimbabwe is a country with its own sovereignty and justice system. There is no need for the United Kingdom or any other country in the commonwealth to be sceptical of the leadership of Zimbabwe. There are observers currently in Zimbabwe to monitor the election process. They do not have to be British or Australian to do a good job. There is some over-reaction in this matter. I think it will be logical to expect that they will do a good job of monitoring without meddling into the leadership of the country. Let us give the current decision of the commonwealth leaders a chance. It is not proven conclusively that President Mugabe has stopped the election from going ahead. There is no need to make unnecessary assumptions. President Mugabe should not be paid back with sanctions simply because of the national feud on farm ownership. That is a Zimbabwean national matter that requires national solution.
Bernard Imarhiagbe, United Kingdom

What if President Mugabe wins following a free and fare election, will Zimbabwe be suspended? I believe Britain, Australia and some of their allies are just out to suspend Zimbabwe out of the Commonwealth. We should only wait for the outcome of the election and since the Commonwealth observers are all for the interest of Commonwealth, there is no way they will speak for Robert Mugabe even when he wins.
Nwokonna Protus, Nigerian, lives in Germany

The tragedy in Zimbabwe is not about land or ownership. It is about an ego that requires ever increasing amounts of power to feed it and the causality will be the average Zimbabwean who sees the economy ravaged and the land destroyed. All it takes for a despot to prosper is for all other countries to stand by and do nothing - shame on the Commonwealth for not rescuing the people of such a potentially rich land.
Ian, England

I am a development worker who visits Africa up to eight times a year. Many individuals mention that they would like to reject anything to do with white people so that they can develop an 'African identity'. I can understand this. However, it seems to me that many leaders in the Commonwealth also seem to think that democracy is a white person's import, a colonial legacy, and should be discarded. The Commonwealth can only speak with one voice and be respected internationally when all of the leaders accept democracy and act accordingly. In the meantime, the ordinary Zimbabwean people will suffer for its failings.
Keith, UK

Hopefully the Penny will have dropped for Tony Blair. Namely that his vision of transforming Africa is misguided, increasing development budgets will just mean increasing the bank balances of the very people who would not take action against Mugabe. As they get richer they too will become more entrenched, and less willing to give up power. The commonwealth is not ever going to be effective, as you cannot expect corrupt leaders to police others who practice the same creed.
Keith, England

Except the fact that everything happening in Zimbabwe now is perfectly identical to what happened in Congo Brazzaville, in Congo Kinshasa, in Central African Rep.and other African countries since 1958. Based on this observation, it is reasonable to think that the next election will open the door to some hope in one case or to another of the already known complete collapse in the other case. And if the second scenario prevails, well! I expect very sad days for the South of Africa and South Africa as well.
Jean Lebatty, Canada

I've thought for a very long time that the Commonwealth is a joke

T. Wakai, Cameroon
I've thought for a very long time that the Commonwealth is a joke. Change will come when we as Africans, wherever we are, take our destinies in our own hands, instead of depending on the morality of people (both Africans and Non-Africans) who do not share the basic humanity of the average African.
T. Wakai, Cameroon

As a sad ex Zimbabwean I am afraid that unless the Commonwealth institutes very strong measures then Zimbabwe will continue to burn and the people will continue to die and starve. President Mbeki is perhaps the power closest to Zimbabwe but seems to be giving tacit consent to the apartheid like regime of Mugabe. There is also a political prisoner, Kevin Woods who is serving a life sentence in Zimbabwe who has a dearth of information on the Matabele slaughter of the past. There is concern that he will disappear off the face of the earth if Mugabe has any indication that he may have an opportunity to speak.
Sandra McAllister, UK

Zimbabwe and some Southern African Nations need land reform urgently. If this process (land reform)were in any other African country like Ghana or Nigeria, the west wouldn't have worried. President Mugabe is not a tyrant. He is a Zimbabwean President and cannot be policed by external forces.
Bonny Anyadoro, Australia

Shifting the issue to perceived British neo-colonialism is massively ill informed. Anyone taking a visit here today will find little interest among the vast majority in how "great" an empire we once had. They will see that our schools teach us of the atrocities Britain committed and that our national television regularly shows historical documentaries critical of the UK. Any larger interest of the British people is born more out of guilt to help a people they wronged and certainly not of any ridiculous colonial aims. We (the Commonwealth) should act now because once the elections have taken place it's too late.
Dave, Britain

I am living in Namibia after being the victim of Zanu PF intimidation and violence

Jongwe, Namibia
I am living in Namibia after being the victim of Zanu PF intimidation and violence. My house was burnt to the ground and my mining business was taken over by gangsters so where is the land issue? My employees were beaten with steel bars because they were brave enough to admit being MDC supporters. The police have done nothing and we being robbed of our rights whilst the rest of the world look on and fall prey to their own individual racial guilt trips. This is not about race. Nor is it about land. Only a power hungry despot who is desperate to hold on to power at any cost.
Jongwe, Namibia

I do not think sanctions against the whole country is a good idea, as it will hurt the people of the country, 99 percent who are innocent. These people may become more aggravated when they cannot eat, but this doesn't mean they will have the power to stage an uprising. We all know Mugabe has always taken care of those who will keep him in power, such as key people in the army.
Buck Jones, USA

I hope I am wrong, but I do not think this will help. What seems to be clear from the last few months is that the African leaders think first about protection for fellow African leaders and only secondly about protection of African peoples. This includes their own peoples in Mbeki┐s case, as Zimbabwe drags the SA economy and credibility downwards. The club rules will not be broken, because each one of them knows that they might be the next one under pressure.
Ally, Scotland

I can appreciate the African leaders in the commonwealth being sick of the West trying to "rule the world" and this is why they are having trouble in deciding what to do with Zimbabwe. The problem though, as we all now know, is with Mugabe and his greedy henchmen who know what will happen to them when they eventually come of power, and these are the people that need to be eradicated.
John Williams, UK

I pray that the people will go to the polls and vote for Morgan.

Muungwe Tom, Zimbabwe
I have noticed that many, if not all the people that have responded to this question are from other countries, not Zimbabwe. Why is this so? I suppose it is because them and their families have not lived under the oppressive rule of Mugabe and his party. As for us Zimbabweans, I think it is time for Mugabe to go. We would rather struggle under a different government that to continue to be oppressed by a person like Mugabe. He has enriched himself and his cronies over the years whilst the masses suffer. We have had enough of him. I pray that the people will go to the polls and vote for Morgan. The international community will come to our aid if the president changes. Enough of Mugabe and his greedy people.
Muungwe Tom, Zimbabwe

I find the attitude of the African leaders objecting to sanctions in Zimbabwe somewhat predictable. What has caused the real lasting problems in Africa is that power seems to always concentrate into the hands of a very small number of determined men. Countries like Nigeria and South Africa seem to have formed a somewhat distasteful bond of solidarity with a man they see as helping them resist the meddling west. The Populations of their countries should wake up and realise that it is their own leaders, not the Commonwealth, which makes their countries a difficult place to live.
Russell Priest, UK

The commonwealth is a waste of time space and energy. I want my country out of it now. I don't want to be a subject of a racist foreign power and part of a body does has done absolutely nothing for the ex-colonies but banish them to poverty and subject them to racial discrimination. Kenya should leave the commonwealth [and the Useless Nations] now and we should forge our own destiny in this hostile world based on a policy of self-reliance and self defence. International co-operation to date simply means a raw deal for you if you're not the right colour and hopelessly tedious lip service being paid to your concerns.
Amoroso, Kenya

There is no democracy in Zimbabwe and no law, therefore change will only come about with the help of outside forces like the commonwealth. If they pass the buck and do not use their present opportunity well - there will have to be another civil war. Sanctions will only work if the right sanctions are done. Rhodesia survived a very long time on sanctions and was made stronger for it. Rather attack Mugabe's money reserves and army movements.
Thompson, Zimbabwean in UK

Once again the Commonwealth has shown itself incapable of facing up to real issues

Steve Male, UK
Once again the Commonwealth has shown itself incapable of facing up to real issues. Perhaps it is because many of the leaders present at the CHOG would feel more than a little tempted to follow Mugabe's lead if their grip on power were to be threatened by the democratic process!
Steve Male, UK

If, and hopefully when, Morgan Tsvangerai becomes president of Zimbabwe, I would not blame him if he pulls out of the Commonwealth and the Southern Africa Development Community, who both have exhibited weakness to the point of complicity with Mugabe's mafia.
Andrew Cover, UK

Britain favours sanctions against Zimbabwe for the purpose of encouraging free, fair and democratic elections. Well it seems quite hypocritical when you consider that when moves to impose trade sanctions against South Africa were made, they were steadfastly resisted by Margaret Thatcher prior to Mandela becoming the first democratically elected President of South Africa.
Martin Doyle, Australia

The Commonwealth is not the national police force of Zimbabwe. If Mugabe kills anyone, then surely that is a national matter for their justice department. If the truth is that the West are worried he will win again and treat the white minority badly, then the Commonwealth ought to wait and act "after the fact". How can you imprison a person because you think he is going to commit a crime? And I thought this was all about a democratic process.
Austin Amadasun, Nigeria

Austin from Nigeria has got it wrong. It's not just the white minority we are concerned about but EVERYONE who lives in Zim, or who has been forced to leave the country in fear of their lives from this oppressive and unjust regime. How many MDC supporters are white compared with 'native' Africans? I think you'll find the majority are not white. When Mugabe is prepared to look after ALL his citizens, he'll be respected as a true democratic leader. I suspect that will never happen. SO, vote for Morgan and end the dictator's rule.
Brian Naylor, England

Mugabe is a hero for not bowing down to pressure from Europe

Melchior Julien, Boston, USA
If the intention is to remove Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth, then I doubt that it will work. Nigeria and South Africa can identify with Zimbabwe's struggle. They are well aware that it's unfeasible for the minority of a population to control fifty percent of the farmlands and hundred percent of the fertile lands. We should have a reverse role in Europe. What would be the reaction of the European majority? Mugabe is a hero for not bowing down to pressure from Europe.
Melchior Julien, Boston, USA

The people in Zimbabwe whose families have been affected in the most brutal and tragic way must be totally appalled at the lack of response to their pleas for help. Are the leaders of the other African nations fully aware of the atrocities being committed or are they merely turning a blind eye??
Mark Corton, Netherlands

Just imagine how the Commonwealth, and other nations would have responded to attempts by the apartheid regime in South Africa to rig elections. It's time African tyrants were treated with equal contempt and with far tougher sanctions than have been agreed in Australia. It's time we stopped treating Mugabe as a naughty child and started treating him as a mature, accountable dictator.
John, UK

Message from African 'leaders' to world: Keep out - unless you're carrying money. The Commonwealth's action is too little, far too late, and sends a clear message to other thugs on the Continent that they can do as they please. Plus ša change.
Peter Tallon, Geneva

The MDC spokesperson at the CHOGM, Sekai Holland, rightly pointed out that the need to redistribute land is undisputed. Believing that current opposition to Mugabe and Zanu-PF is about land plays directly into their hands. This is about an autocratic leader who stops at nothing to remain in power- against the wishes of a majority of the population. Don't we have a responsibility to find a way to help the people of Zimbabwe?
John Bird, UK

If the facts stated on the BBC2 Correspondent programme are correct, this apology for a president has been torturing and murdering the people of Zimbabwe for the last 20 years. The Commonwealth should ostracise such people at once without waiting for the outcome of the forthcoming election.
Simon Fenland, UK

Simon, The pity of it all is that the plunder, murder and torture did not start 20 years ago - it goes back centuries when white folks arrogated to themselves the right to the African lands. Pity, UK should have settled this question long ago under the Lancaster House agreement but it failed. Is it now covering its shame by bashing Mugabe, who is no darling but used to be attractive to the West not too long ago.
E. Tettey, U.S.A

See also:

04 Mar 02 | Africa
Summit strikes Zimbabwe deal
03 Mar 02 | UK Politics
Zimbabwe attacks UK 'colonialism'
01 Mar 02 | Asia-Pacific
Commonwealth credibility at stake
06 Feb 02 | Africa
Zimbabwe's climate of fear
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