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Last Updated: Tuesday, 9 December, 2003, 12:31 GMT
Commonwealth and Mugabe: Your reactions

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe says he is pulling his country out of the Commonwealth with immediate effect.

He said he did not accept the decision made at the Abuja summit, to maintain Zimbabwe's suspension indefinitely.

Zimbabwe was suspended from the 54-nation Commonwealth last year after President Mugabe was accused of rigging his own re-election.

A group of African states wanted the suspension lifted, arguing that dialogue is the only way forward while other members say Zimbabwe can't be re-admitted unless it introduces democratic reforms.

How should the international community deal with Zimbabwe? Can the Commonwealth influence the behaviour of its members?

The following comments reflect the balance of views we have received:

I am very sure there are millions of Zimbabweans that are a lot more intelligent than Mugabe and would do a better job at leading the country
Muhammed, Lagos

Mugabe is an old corrupt leader whose time as Zimbabwe's leader had run out years ago. Come on, does he think he is the only one capable of ruling Zimbabwe? I am very sure there are millions of Zimbabweans that are a lot more intelligent than Mugabe and would do a better job at leading the country.

I don't know why one man is allowed to make the lives of millions miserable. This is unfair and simply unacceptable.

Mugabe's withdrawal from the Commonwealth is a sign of his state of mind. He now believes he is above criticism, that he is above all Zimbabweans. His land reform policy was nothing more than a populist move for perpetuate his grip on the poor citizens of Zimbabwe.

Blaming the country's problems on colonialism is an insult to the entire population of the country, and the rest of Africa. He should, and must, go.
Muhammed, Lagos, Nigeria

We here in Zimbabwe are sickened by the mouthing of some of our less informed sympathisers who gullibly swallow Mugabe's over-exploited resettlement claims
Titus Mhungu, Harare

Don't just open your mouths in support of what you do not know, if you have never been in Zimbabwe. If you have never had your wife raped while you watched. I guess you could find it convenient to recklessly parrot in support of Mugabe.

What do you know about land? What resettlement? Resettlement, my foot! Even a report by one of his famous bootlickers failed to produce justification for the exercise. Numbers do come cheap on the lips but have any of you ever ventured into the farming areas to see for yourselves? Or do you merely commit pen to paper in the safety of your far away cities?

Perhaps you would want to ask the South African High commissioner to Zimbabwe. He had a wonderful experience with drooling war veterans and delusional youths. So wonderful he has not bothered to unclamp his usually loose mouth. He was detained for three hours. Some unconfirmed reports say he was forced to chant slogans in support of Mugabe. It's a sobering thought.

We here in Zimbabwe are sickened by the mouthing of some of our less informed sympathisers who gullibly swallow Mugabe's over-exploited resettlement claims.
Titus Mhungu, Harare, Zimbabwe

I would have done the noble thing of quitting the club well back in 2002 if I was the president
Cleophas Jera, Harare

The Commonwealth has never been a beneficial club to African members and will never be. I would have done the noble thing of quitting the club well back in 2002 if I was the president. We don't need the "Uncommonwealth club".
Cleophas Jera, Harare, Zimbabwe

The important thing is Zimbabwe made a decision! He could be wrong. It's better to be poor but free than rich but a slave. It is time African countries learnt to take their own stands. Zimbabwe's problem is more serious that simply removing Mugabe. The UK knows it. South Africa knows it. Everyone knows it!
Peter Mataba, Johannesburg/Tanzania

How much longer are the ills of Africa to be blamed on colonialism? Most of the African states have been independent for decades. They have wasted the opportunity and descended into tribal warfare then expect to be bailed out with Western aid.
Brian W, Chelmsford, UK

This is not a Black/White issue, and never has been. This is a Despot/Democracy issue. If Mugabe really intended to redistribute land fairly and effectively he should have set up farming training schemes and prepared for a phased, controlled, fair, effective policy. Instead he cripples the farms, rewards his cronies, starves his enemies and steals elections - need I go on. Should the West stay out of Africa? Of course not.

Students of economics or politics will realise that no country exists in isolation, and no right minded individual can sit idly and watch a nation starve, either by the hand of a despot, or natural causes.
Matthew Rynne, London, UK

It makes ones heart bleed to see how people in Zimbabwe are suffering
Victoria Phiri, Lusaka

It makes ones heart bleed to see how people in Zimbabwe are suffering. The so called President, Mugabe is not at all concerned about the welfare of his people. He and his government should be removed form power with immediate effect, whatever it takes! The Commonwealth can influence the behaviour of its members to enhance sanity. The way to do this is through dialogue and when this fails sanctions are necessary. This is the only way we can deal with stubborn people.
Victoria Phiri, Lusaka, Zambia

All Zimbabweans must realise one thing. Our fate lies in our hands not and not the hands of our neighbours or the Commonwealth. The world must leave us alone to sort our problems out. Even though Mugabe is a dictator we must still realise that he is one of us. How we deal with him is our prerogative. Let us unite in prayer as a nation, God will give us a solution to our problem.
Peter, Lesotho

You cannot punish the whole of Zimbabwe because of Mugabe
Tafadzwa Chipfuva, Harare, Zimbabwe
I think the group is not objective enough. You cannot punish the whole of Zimbabwe because of Mugabe. The sanctions have been directed at the people of Zimbabwe not at Mugabe. When dealing with a problem you deal with the root not the branches. I think the decision to suspend Zimbabwe should be reversed. Punish Mugabe and not the whole population.
Tafadzwa Chipfuva, Harare, Zimbabwe

It's difficult to see how Zimbabwe benefits from not being in the Commonwealth. Mugabe, on the other hand, cannot stand any form of criticism or being called to account by anyone. He is a bitter old man filled with hate for anyone who doesn't agree with him. He also feels let down by a Zimbabwean population that no longer wants him, betrayal in its worst form
Keith, Harare, Zimbabwe

I'm getting a bit fed up with comments about the big bad whites and how Africa has been hobbled by colonialism. The Rwanda atrocity, Liberia, etc. The list of events that have a singularly African origin is endless. Africans put this down to the boundaries established by the former colonial powers. But where is the basic human decency, the morality and responsibility. Killing other human beings, rape and the use of children as soldiers has little to do with colonialism. We in the west are not perfect with Bosnia, Kosovo etc. Wake up, Mugabe is a despot whose family and cronies are bleeding the wealth of Zimbabwe and making life hell for the people of Zimbabwe. Land is an excuse to do what he has been doing for years.
Iain, Brisbane

As a Zimbabwean studying in the UK, I am more than disappointed about how things have turned out. In as much as I condoned Mugabe's previous actions I feel the situation is now going to be worse. As a member of the Commonwealth there would have been pressure for him to act towards democracy, now he's out the Commonwealth we will be unable to control him. I dread to think of what will happen. As for Britain, Australia and the rest well you got what we wanted, now the people of Zimbabwe will suffer more.
Farai Muz, Liverpool, UK

I doubt if Zimbabwe would have been suspended if its government did not take land from the whites. This talk of human rights abuses has been there in Zimbabwe for some time, the opposition has been there and not being supported. It is now being financially supported because Mugabe took the land. Britain has a moral responsibility to help Zimbabwe and this should not be conditional. Britain is responsible for the mess in Zimbabwe and it wants to turn our attention away and say this is about human rights. Oh no, stop it.
Moeti Mohwasa

When did tobacco become anybody's bread? The BBC and many people continue to write about how Zimbabwe was the bread basket of Africa when the truth is that those farmers turned to producing cash crops like tobacco when commodity prices for maize and other crops went down. As for the problems in Zimbabwe and Mugabe, I personally blame Britain and the EU. If only they had not interfered or stayed away from the last presidential elections Mugabe would have been history by now. They interference changed everything and a tyrant was given a chance to win the election.
Chanda M, Finland

I think it's a bold decision and its a shame that the heads of states think that they are punishing Mugabe not knowing it's the ordinary Zimbabwean who is suffering. Zimbabweans are slowly dying because of this decision by the heads of state. It's probably a duty for those who are not sinking to help those who are sinking. But instead you are pushing them down to sink quickly. For the ordinary Zimbabweans, God have mercy over you.
Oliver, Newmarket, UK

No matter how bad Mugabe is now, the genesis of the Zimbabwean problems lies in colonial past. Can anybody tell me which British colony in Africa is doing well today? I think is time Britain officially apologises for the havoc they have created in Africa. Perhaps this will help us Africans to sit down and manage our problems.
Emeka Onwualu, Prague Czech rep.

I believe Mr. Mbeki (South Africa) and Mr. Obasanjo (Nigeria) are to blame for Mr. Mugabe's thick-headedness. Let the two know that they are shaming Africa by supporting such a tyrant. They just have no business support such oppression. Mr. Mbeki is fast to forget that it was the collective pressure of most of us in Africa that help to end oppression in South Africa.
Chatari Victor, Kenya

It is probably wrong to assume that the Commonwealth has the potential, through sanctions and opprobrium, to influence the likes of Mugabe or even the fate of Zimbabwe. What it must do, IMHO, is stick firm to its convictions. If people believe that Mugabe goes beyond the acceptable then it must not mince its words nor conceal the truth behind fudges and compromises. 'Las cosas como son,' (Spanish for Tell it like it is) and make sure everyone gets to hear about it.
Harold, Madrid, Spain

Mugabe is a tyrant. He makes a mockery of democracy. He should be removed immediately, by force if necessary.
Peter Muller, Port Elizabeth, South Africa

Africans are tired of hearing about Zimbabwe's problems since the game is based on the political interest of land distribution
Kituta Asimba Ibrahim, Gabarone

I think the international community should be aware that the people of Zimbabwe are the most affected by sanctions than the accused Mugabe. Therefore, discarding the despot Mugabe from the Commonwealth is to aggravate the situation on population suffering. The Commonwealth should look the means to end the political deity game they are playing with Mugabe. Africans are tired of hearing about Zimbabwe's problems since the game is based on the political interest of land distribution.
Kituta Asimba Ibrahim, Gabarone, Botswana

The ordinary people are suffering
T Gwirambira, Harare

The sanctions are not even affecting the extended families of Mugabe, but instead the ordinary people are suffering. The idea of sanctions does not punish the perpetrator. Land redistribution in Zimbabwe is now water under the bridge. The inflation in Zimbabwe will take another lifetime to bring it to two digit figures and by then Mugabe will be long gone. Commonwealth must not make a life-term scar for the future generation of Zimbabwe.
T Gwirambira, Harare

Mugabe and the present regime have to be removed whatever it takes. There is no way he should be allowed to take part in anything to do with the Commonwealth until he restores freedom of speech and human rights, and disbands the militias and the war veterans. He is a disgrace to Africa and to allow him to continue unchecked in his wicked dictatorship is a crime committed by the Commonwealth, the United Nations and the African Union, especially South Africa.
D Beevers, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe

Give Mugabe a break - he is just an old car waiting to perish even if he has it his way it won't last long. Mugabe's regime is just a passing storm and the hardest thing is enduring through it. But it will pass.
Vadharah, Harare, Zimbabwe

As a Briton I am totally ashamed by our behaviour over the issue of Zimbabwe
Alastair, UK

As a Briton I am totally ashamed by our behaviour over the issue of Zimbabwe. Mugabe is no better than Hitler. It is to our shame that we just sit back and watch him tear his country apart. He is a racist, no better than the colonial overlords he sought to remove, who is determined to destroy Zimbabwe.

The issue of land reform is simply an excuse that Mugabe has for propagating his racist agenda. It does not matter whether a farmer is white or black, what matters is whether or not he or she knows how to farm the land. Mugabe has kicked out the very people he needs to farm the land and handed it to his army of thugs.
Alastair, UK

This so called leader is a total disgrace. Omitting Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth should have been done long ago, how anybody can support this despotic man is beyond belief! He is systematically destroying a once flourishing country solely to line his own pockets. He must go now!
Steven Roberts, London England

Mugabe deserves the sanctions. This will be a clear pointer to all other African dictators.
Kwaku Osei-Agyemang, Kumasi, Ghana

The Commonwealth cannot do any positive thing to influence the behaviour of its members.
Kaycy Paul, London/Canada

This new identity is not compatible with the Commonwealth anymore
Nyika Yachekwa, Hwange

Most of the opposition in Zimbabwe is suffering an identity crisis. Most of those who know what they are doing are offspring's from the former white regime's supporters. When the government of Zimbabwe failed to redistribute land for twenty years these people who would like to portray themselves as advocates of human rights and democracy used to be quite comfortable with the situation.

Land is what they still identified themselves with. Now with the land back to its rightful owners Zimbabwe now assumes a new identity. It does not look like a former colony of Britain anymore. This new identity is not compatible with the Commonwealth anymore.
Nyika Yachekwa, Hwange, Zimbabwe

Can anyone tell me how many of the expropriated farms have produced a crop since? I suspect it is close to zero. Mr Mugabe enjoys snappy suits and tie, and the braids and bright chains of office, but simultaneously decries the economic system that purchased it. What a sad man he is to have sacrificed his country's wellbeing in order to cling to undeserved power.
Nelson McCormack, Durban, South Africa

When Mugabe took over from Ian Smith inflation was 0% and that was with years of sanctions from the Commonwealth included. If Mugabe is the great leader he purports to be let him rise to the challenge and better the inflation rate of his predecessor.
Ian, Germany

Right now the Zanu PF conference is in full swing and clearly the exclusion has only galvanized Mugabe to see he doesn't need the Commonwealth! This talk shop is no fly in his ointment. What is needed is drastic action on the ground. You can harp all you want this man is not bothered and I think some other practical intervention measures are now overdue.
McDonald Matika, Harare, Zimbabwe

Suspension should be removed immediately and the entire Commonwealth should collectively pressurise Mugabe to re establish good democratic institutions. The Commonwealth should pay more attention to the sufferings of the common mass in Zimbabwe.
Noel Aloysius, Colombo, Sri Lanka

It is very difficult to imagine that he was the saint ten years ago
Toringepi, Harare, Zimbabwe
Mugabe must go, with his cronies. He has failed to contain inflation, famine, corruption and joblessness. What good is he for? Election or no election people are just but fed up. It is very difficult to imagine that he was the saint ten years ago. Now he is a villain.
Toringepi, Harare, Zimbabwe

Would everyone who does not live in Zimbabwe who thinks Robert Mugabe is right, please go and live there. That way you can live with your hero, and those who are persecuted in Zimbabwe can take your place in your country.
Andre, Brussels, Belgium

International community should not just watch Mugabe doing his barbaric behaviour. Innocent people are suffering because of him. Why not just invite him and arrest him on the summit to allow fresh election to be done excluding him. He is just like Saddam in one way or the other.
Monts Shoddies, Harare, Zimbabwe

The Commonwealth was formed by old, evil, cynical and deceitful imperialists who could not come to terms with a crumbling empire. The benefits of membership are not evident. Zimbabwe should withdraw and rid itself of any links with slavery and colonial standards set up by the white Commonwealth. Quite frankly we do not need their company.
Malcolm, Harare. Zimbabwe

What is needed now is a rightful, election winning leader who will work to support the ideals of the Commonwealth and the UN
J Newman, UK
In terms of land distribution, Mugabe's motives are a mix of total control and racism. He punishes the relatives of people who stole the land, what crime have they committed? If it was just a case of taking the land then it would not be as bad but Mugabe is also decimated the land and uses violence to get his way. What is needed now is action, progress and the putting in place of a rightful, election winning leader who will work to support the ideals of the Commonwealth and the UN
J Newman, UK

It is fair enough that the "indigenous" people get "their" land back. But in order to do this he turned a blind eye to the slaughter of a lot of people, and that is wrong. The fact he is still not accountable for his countries actions is also wrong. To allow Robert Mugabe to this summit would be the same as allowing Saddam and Osama to turn up.
Craig, UK

This is not a war against white and black, this is war between Mugabe and his corruption and the Zimbabwean people. The people of Zimbabwe are not going to get any land from Mugabe as he is going to keep it for himself and his cronies! They are getting richer and richer and fatter when most of the population is struggling to survive!!! The Commonwealth may have an issue in wanting Zimbabwe out, but is it going to effect him? Is this going to change Mugabe? I don't think so. This is just going to affect innocent people already suffering enough.
Francesca Durosini, London - UK

What would be the point of Mugabe's land redistribution programme if repossessed farms are now being grabbed by corrupt officials and others, instead of being handed back to poor Zimbabweans who have historically been deprived of land?
James, London, UK

Mugabe may fool all of Africa and indeed Asia and even some of Europe, but we know him!
Mpho Moyo, Zimbabwe
Yes Mugabe and friends took land. but not in the name of the people. it was all in the name of Zanu PF. They grabbed the prime farms, harvested what they never sowed and tell all and sundry of the gains of the land reform. Question is was it really a revolution? Or was it all stage managed? After three failed seasons Zimbabweans are being told to persevere and rejoice over the regained land.. Mugabe may fool all of Africa and indeed Asia and even some of Europe, but we know him! He speaks the eloquent and inspiring revolutionary words to the international community and does the opposite.. These Zimbabweans who speak so highly of him are dining with him. The rest of us in Zimbabwe are beyond despair.. May God speedily intervene!!!
Mpho Moyo, Zimbabwe

As much as I feel that the redistribution of land in Zimbabwe has failed badly, the C/wealth is hiding behind elections when their real reason for suspending Mugabe is land redistribution. It is hypocritical of the white countries honestly. Maybe Mugabe is a repeat of their great grandfathers who grabbed African land and killed those who resisted, how about the truth, at least Mugabe has not killed them except for a few accidents.
Lit Benachilanga, Nairobi, Kenya

I notice people talk about Mugabe trying to correct colonial imbalances and most from Africa who may have not set foot on Zimbabwe seem to support Mugabe out of emotion not principle. Mugabe's taking of land from the whites has only managed to starve people but not to alienate him from the rest of the world. This guy was given 47 million pounds for land redistribution. Then land was going for a 1000 pound an average farm. Instead he got the land, abused some of the funds, resettled ordinary people in ranches and the most fertile land given to his cronies.

Come 3 years ago he grabbed land and again the same cronies benefited after destroying their previous farms, and people say he is solving past differences, I feel disgusted. Mugabe killed, tortured, kidnapped people to win an election. He then embarked on a retribution exercise and people still feel he has to be treated like an equal at the Commonwealth. No. Musharaf may be a dictator but we have not heard murderous stories.
Wake Wakanaka, Harare, Zimbabwe

Is the Commonwealth fair?
Lyndon Patrick Berchy, The Netherlands
Mr Robert Mugabe has acted in a undemocratic manner in dealing with the problems of his country but so has Australia in violating the human rights of Aboriginal people and they claims to their land after all its always been like that, I know I am a native Aussie myself, so is the Commonwealth fair?
Lyndon Patrick Berchy, The Netherlands

Mugabe claims that there are plenty of other international clubs he could join. The Axis of Evil for example. He's certainly got the media more tightly controlled than Iran.
Adam Lakeman, UK

It is not enough to expel Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth. How will this help the people? We need to expel Mugabe from Zimbabwe.
Graham Shelton, Oxford, England

I think that Britain is being very unfair to Zimbabwe. Is all this fuss being caused by the fact that Zimbabwe has taken its land back? I would like to think that the international community should understand that the land issue is not new. Zimbabwe has peace more than any other country in this region. The international community should help those at war, not Zimbabwe. They should accept as well that the land issue is not negotiable. In my view the commonwealth will end up causing problems for Zimbabwe peace. The government of Zimbabwe could have implemented its land policy haphazardly but it was important it did what it did. Help them implement it not to reverse it.
John Imani, Harare, Zimbabwe

To John Imani, Harare: It's not just that the land was taken back; it's the brutally forceful way it was done. Now Mugabe is claiming a "Western plot" is bringing down Zimbabwe's economy. He doesn't want to know the truth - That his methods destroyed a system that worked, rather than changed it.
Tim, UK

If Zimbabwe are entered back into the Commonwealth I will certainly drop my Canadian passport for any with zero ties to the Commonwealth. What a disgrace it would be to have such a blemish in society like Mugabe gaining any moral ground on this planet!
Jimmy, Toronto, Canada

I find it odd that a mere 6% of white settlers, can lay claim to about 80% of Zimbabwean land
Musa, South Africa
I'm a South African who supports what Mr Mugabe is trying to do in principle (land redistribution), but I am opposed to the strong arm tactics of the regime. My opposition to these measures stem from my belief in African Humanism and also the fact that President Mugabe still has control over the coercive arms of government in Zimbabwe.
I find it odd that a mere 6% of white settlers, can lay claim to about 80% of Zimbabwean land. The Mbeki regime in South Africa, is addressing the land issue with a relative degree of urgency, because Justice for Africans in South Africa will only be realized if South Africans have equal access to land.
Musa, Cape Town, South Africa

The Commonwealth itself has achieved nothing. If Britain and Australia want to suspend Zimbabwe, so be it. After all, Zimbabwe will still remain in the present status quo with or without Commonwealth.
Manyok Chuol, Truro, Canada.

I'm glad the Commonwealth has acted firmly in denouncing intolerant, racist regimes. In doing so, it has kept alive its chances of not becoming a total anachronism. Hey, but throwing your weight around with a poor Zimbabwe is no great shakes. Can you do the same with an autocratic USA - look what they did to Iraq and Georgia? Only when it raises its voice against "white" regimes, can the CW truly claim to be the champion against racism.
Elango M, Madras, India

I don't mean to excuse Mugabe's behaviour, but it seems clear to me the former colonial powers are still trying to exert an undue influence layered with a thin veneer of moralism. It bothers me when former colonial powers pontificate when barely 40 years ago they were actively trying to subjugate and rob these very people.
Peter Vevang, Minneapolis, USA

Africans have not begun to understand what the west calls human rights. No leader in African has clues about this. The apologists for Robert Mugabe and his actions are many. Thus in the whole of Africa we have only two voices against the abuse of human rights in Zimbabwe. Those are Kibaki of Kenya, and Mogae of Botswana, the two lone and distant voices in the vast wilderness crying for human rights. Commonwealth has no chance of winning this fight, but it would be better if Mugabe left the Group than if the Group backs down. All the ordinary Zimbabweans who are not currently benefiting from the regime, support the isolation of Mugabe and his shameful regime.
Benson Magaba, Chatsworth, Zimbabwe

Mugabe has, once again, played the race card and it has been successful in gaining the support of most African countries. It is clear that the Commonwealth is now split across racial lines and, consequently, its demise is inevitable.
Ken, UK

Re-admitting Zimbabwe to the Commonwealth now would be an affront to the majority of Zimbabweans who already feel betrayed by the International community
Nyanda, London
As a Zimbabwean who has been forced into exile I am horrified that neighbours like Zambia & South Africa are actively encouraging Commonwealth Member states to vote for Zimbabwe's re-inclusion. It has very little to do with race or ethnic background and everything to do with the fact that Mugabe's regime is a brutal, corrupt & repressive one which certainly does not have the interests of its people at heart. How can Africa & African leaders expect to be taken seriously in the arena of international politics when they turn a blind eye to this sort of behaviour?

Ironically, not so long ago, these very leaders of our neighbouring states were calling for sanctions to be imposed on the former Rhodesian & South African regimes for the very same reasons. How quickly they forget that the UK, Australia & New Zealand were equally vociferous in ensuring that sanctions against these "rogue" states remained in place. Why now is it any different? While sanctions may not have improved the life of ordinary Zimbabweans, they certainly haven't made them any worse. Re-admitting Zimbabwe to the C/wealth now would be an affront to the majority of Zimbabweans who already feel betrayed by the International community.
Nyanda, London

Every time the UK tries to get involved in African affairs all we seem to get back is accusations of neo-colonialism. Never mind the help we give to the starving people in Sudan and Ethiopia, the troops we sent to protect the citizens of Sierra Leone or the stance many people took against the apartheid system in South Africa. I'm all for equal rights and land reform in Zimbabwe but when you start labelling me as racist and a neo-colonizer when I get involved, because of what past generations have done, then I personally lose all interest in Africa's problems. What am I meant to do? Turn back time and correct all the wrongs that were done in the name of the Empire?
John, UK

Democracy is the right of the people to choose how and who is going to lead them, Zimbabweans did that and many African observers who have clear understanding of Zimbabwe agreed. Western democracy is not necessarily fit everywhere and it is not right to impose western morality everywhere simply because you have the power to do so. It is time to realize that just because you are from a developed country does not mean you know better and your way is always right, until this is recognized and accepted, the world will not be any different from its current state.
Martin Joseph,

May all those who support Mugabe swallow their words
Tadiwa Mugereswa, Zimbabwe
May all those who support Mugabe swallow their words. They do not know just how much that infuriates an average Zimbabwean. WE are suffering, we are hungry, we cannot even budget for a month as inflation is rising by over 50% each month. Its not about Land, it's about mismanagement and dictatorship. I am tired of these Mugabe sympathisers who borrow the man's language and yet never come to see the situation on the ground.
Tadiwa Mugereswa, Zimbabwe

It strikes me as rather odd that we ousted Saddam Hussein on a pack of lies, but Mugabe is allowed to continue his reign of tyranny.
Bob, Crewkerne, Somerset

I wish people would stop hiding behind the blatant lie of Mugabe's land distribution programme. Most of the land taken, not only from white farmers but opposition supporting black farmers, has gone to government ministers and supporters. Not the people to who it was allegedly going!
Phil Reid, Guernsey, Great Britain

The British stole by force the land from Africans and Mugabe is distribution the land to the original owners. The west is disturbed because justice is done against their imperialist, egoistic interest which is always in conflict with the interest of Africans. They have economically blocked Mugabe and the people are suffering. My question is, who is the devil? Mugabe or the west?
Dr Wodi Samuel, Germany

It's a pity the Zambian leader isn't saddened by the human rights abuses and destruction of the economy of Zimbabwe rather than just its exclusion from the Commonwealth.
Mike Spencer, London, UK

The population gained independence from the colonial masters, only to find that their "brothers" in leadership are as bad or worse
Robbie, UK
It reminds me of Orwell's Animal Farm. The population gained independence from the colonial masters, only to find that their "brothers" in leadership are as bad or worse than the colonial masters. It is ironic to think that the very people who carried out the land grab of the successful farms (which sustained a relatively prosperous country), are now sitting on the streets with nothing, having now been kicked off the farms by the very people they were supporting.
Robbie, UK

I truly believe that Mugabe's land distribution policy is behind all the uproar. If he was taking land away from native Africans we would not hear a bleep in the news about Zimbabwe's problems.
Aristides Garcia, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Yes Mugabe is corrupt, and he must go. Just expelling him from the Commonwealth isn't going to fix the crisis in Zimbabwe. Mugabe will simply stand up and say "I don't need the Commonwealth". Clearly the Commonwealth is a toothless bulldog. It can bark all it wants; the thief is not going to run. While it continues to bark, the thief continues to ransack my beloved country; while professional Zimbabweans (myself among them) languish doing menial jobs in London and elsewhere so we can support our families back home. To the Commonwealth I say it's time to stop talking and start some action against this maniacal, egotistic geriatric. If you can't do this, then perhaps keep your silence, forever.
Madeleine, London, UK

Nothing can be done about Zimbabwe while South Africa and Nigeria continue to support one of the most incompetent governments of the new millennium. South Africa and Nigeria have also not made clear why they support Mugabe's dictatorship despite the wealth of evidence to justify his removal. The C/wealth can do absolutely nothing when the two power houses of Africa insist on pretending that there is "nothing to see here". Grow up, colonialism cannot be used as an excuse anymore.
James Boorman , Nairobi / Kenya - Danish

The Commonwealth sanctions are hurting the poor people of Zimbabwe
Susanne Plate, Germany
I do not support Mugabe, he certainly must go but I do support the land reform process which must continue. If 3/4 of the land is owned by whites as legacy of the colonial rule there is something seriously wrong no matter how stable or 'bread basket' the country is. Stability has no meaning if the majority population is poor because of the unfair past. I am surprised why the rest of the Commonwealth is quiet on this issue which has been completely hijacked and twisted by UK, Australia and their allies. In this particular case, the Commonwealth sanctions are hurting the poor people of Zimbabwe and everyone can see how badly.
Susanne Plate, Germany

There are still more than 400 UK companies doing business in Zimbabwe. Surely, if the UK genuinely believes that Mugabe is running this terrible dictatorship they'd declare sanctions and force these companies out?
Mike , UK

Britain should pull out of the C/wealth and leave all the tin pot dictators to pat each other on the back telling each other how well they are doing as their countries slide down the tube.
Alan, Scotland

If Mugabe is so opposed to the old colonialists then why is he so upset at being barred from their club? The Commonwealth is an anachronism in today's world. The problems in Zimbabwe aren't about land redistribution as such but about the way it was done. You can't throw the farmers and their labourers off the land and give it to 'war veterans' and expect no problems in the transition. The way he did it was asinine, and now all Zimbabweans are paying for it while he continues to play the race card.
Brian, UK

When will Brits realize that this is 2003 and give up on 'Royal British Empire' once and for all? Wake up, it's gone. Let Mugabe lead his country for better or worse. So long as he does not attack British citizens or attack the UK, don't get involved with Zimbabwe's internal affairs.
Simon, New Jersey, U.S.

The existence of the Commonwealth is a form of colonialism. The Africans should stop receiving aids and start developing themselves.
Wendu Regassa Awash, Ethiopia/USA

What does exclusion from the Commonwealth do for the problem?
Zach, NYC, USA
What can the Commonwealth do for Zimbabwe? Will it help put food on the table? It hasn't yet. For all their posturing, the UK, Australia, and NZ aren't doing very much about the situation on the ground. It's very hard to deny that Mugabe is, at best, a tyrant-in-training, but what does exclusion from the Commonwealth do for the problem?
Zach, NYC, USA

Mugabe has achieved his goal of further driving a wedge between blacks and whites generally. He uses the age old tactics of cultural relativism and nationalism to portray himself as an oppressed leader of colonised state. His rhetorical style emphasizes these ideas via appeals to racism and pseudo-historical facts. However the details are rather straight forward: he has been the main force behind violence in Zimbabwe for the last 20 years, he has destroyed economy, and he has placed his cronies/thugs (supposed war veterans) on land that needs to be shared equitably. The most surprising thing is just how many people inside and outside of Zimbabwe find his style and message appealing.
Giles, Kosovo

I see little evidence of African nations being able to sort out their own internal problems; it seems that the West is continually blamed for Africa's own inability to govern. Why are we still blamed for problems which are no longer of our making.
Chris , Lowestoft

I am a Zimbabwean who appears to be waiting in vain for change. Tougher measures are needed if the world is to see a free and democratic Zimbabwe in the next 10 years. Tony Blair and George Bush - is yours a selective War against Terrorism?!!!!!
Lisa Bezuidenhout, Johannesburg, South Africa

Everybody knows those sanctions are hurting the innocent not Mugabe
Sichilombe Derick, Lusaka, Zambia
The pressure on Mugabe is racially inclined. There are a lot of dictators on the African continent that are wining and dinning with the queen and nothing is happening to them. The only crime Mugabe has committed is that he grabbed land from a white man. Leave Zimbabwe and Africa alone. For once lets be above human colour, it's for the Stone Age. Everybody knows those sanctions are hurting the innocent not Mugabe.
Sichilombe Derick, Lusaka, Zambia

Just look at the facts... before Mugabe's "land reforms", Zimbabwe was relatively prosperous, the "bread basket" of southern Africa. After the policy's adoption, Zimbabwe is bankrupt, and people are starving. Were the "reforms" a good thing? Anyone with any sense of logic would say no. Should the international community do anything about it? I don't think so. It is, after all, an internal matter. The people of Zimbabwe are responsible for their own fate, just as anyone else is.
LKM, New Zealand

From the bread basket it was during the time of sanctions imposed by the Commonwealth to what it is today. Good grief! Remove Mugabe by all means and set up a democratic government
Roy Prescott, Smiths Falls, Canada.

It's about time that an example is made of a dictator that has no respect for his own people. Although this is a very small step they need to be told it is not acceptable. Good for the Commonwealth!
Gail, South Africa

Who can rescue Zimbabwe? The Commonwealth has failed, the world has failed
V. Ndaneta, Zimbabwe
Any leader lobbying for Mugabe admires the dictator. They wish they could do the same. Watch out! An ordinary Zimbabwean was looking for support from the Commonwealth but they are all scared of Mugabe. Nobody really comes up with a solution. Mugabe has lost touch with what's happening in his country. No Zimbabwean can stand up and have a say. Check it out! I will give that person one week to live. There is no law in Zimbabwe. You can kill anyone in the name of the government. Who can rescue Zimbabwe? The Commonwealth has failed, the world has failed.
V. Ndaneta, Zimbabwe

Sure, exclude him. Dictators don't like to have their powers restricted. So it may cause others of his ilk to know that they are accountable - if not to their people then at least to the world community.
J Thompson, Australia

Who rules Africa is my question. It does not need a rocket scientist for any normal person to conclude that it is the interest of outsiders that is causing problems in Africa particularly in Zimbabwe. Personally I'm not into politics but when it comes to the land issue, I will grab it. The land in Zimbabwe was 3/4 in the hands of the whites, they controlled the Industry hence they ruled the country.

The land policy has changed, the indigenisation policy has come into effect, black Zimbabweans can now have companies and compete with the whites, they can afford luxuries cars and homes which did not go well with the whites. To say the truth the economic war in Zimbabwe is greater than the gun war. The white sabotage in Zimbabwe has crumbled the economy. Although there are corrupt hands in the government we want to see a situation where whether you are black ,coloured, Indian or white you get your share of land.
Taurai, Harare Zimbabwe

It is interesting to note that when the British left Zimbabwe, We left a country that was capable of feeding not only its own people, but those of the surrounding region. Now, barley 20 years later, the country is in turmoil. Now, I do feel sorry for the atrocities committed under British rule, and wish our history had been different, but I fail to see why we should be called 'racist' and 'paternalistic' for trying to help out the people of Zimbabwe by drawing the world's attention to this madman. It seems that many of the African nations would rather accept the bloody rule of a black dictator than accept the help of the 'Anglo-Saxon' countries! If that is the case then good luck to you. Your on your own from now on.
Dan, UK

The "white" members of the C/wealth, who hate us because they fear that land reform will spread like wild fire in Africa.
Moses Karima, Zimbabwe
What we as Africans seek for is equality. I agree with Mugabe, if the Commonwealth can not treat us as equal partners, I think it is time to say good bye. If Zimbabwe is left out of the C/wealth because of the so called rigged elections, what about the recent Nigerian elections, Zambian elections or Tanzanian? All of these elections had major irregularities but has anything happened? It is, an unholy alliance against Zimbabwe by the "white" members of the C/wealth, who hate us because they fear that land reform will spread like wild fire in Africa.
Moses Karima, Zimbabwe

Mugabe is directly responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands through enforced and deliberate starvation and thousands more have been beaten and tortured to death. All you Mugabe supporters out there - guess what? It is time you stopped blaming the west for every solvable problem in Africa, stood up like adults and fixed them yourselves instead of complaining endlessly.
Johan Swiegler, Dane in the UK

I condemn all African leaders except president Mwanawasa for not supporting Zimbabwe enough or even trying to defend a fellow country so as to ensure equity in the Commonwealth organization. What is done against Zimbabwe is not accepted by many Africans and I wonder why our Leaders do not express our concerns.
Charles Richard, Dar es Salaam

Absolutely the Commonwealth and the UN should pressure him. Actually, it goes beyond Zimbabwe. I believe it is high time the UN created as part of the UN Charter that ALL nations should be transparent Democracies. Otherwise they can not join or vote in the UN, receive any aid, nor ANY arms from any state. This way dictatorships would always be weak, with no solid means to continually prop themselves up.
Ryan Petersen, San Jose, CA USA

Given how destitute Mugabe has made Zimbabwe, I think international stature and credibility (such as he has) is all he has left to lose.
Damian Leach, UK
Given how destitute Mugabe has made Zimbabwe, I think international stature and credibility (such as he has) is all he has left to lose. With that in mind, I think it's entirely possible for the Commonwealth to at least show it's disapproval for his fundamental disregard for property rights, human rights, the rule of law and general principles of good governance by barring him.
Damian Leach, UK

There might be a slim chance that the Commonwealth is excluding Robert from the Summit because of the land re-distribution saga, which affected the white populace in Zimbabwe. I am not insinuating that it was a right move, NO!! It was clear that Robert Mugabe is not only a tyrant but also racially prejudiced, and that he is most unfit to be a leader because a leader is supposed to rule without prejudice. However, it might just be the reason for alienating him.

The claims are that he was suspended because the last election in Zimbabwe was not fair but how many elections held in Africa are free and fair? There are lot of African leaders who has committed more unspeakable atrocities and they are still members of the Commonwealth today. The Commonwealth should take a plausible and diplomatic approach in dealing with issues plaguing her members, so leaders don't end up taking decisions which have drastic effects on their citizens. This is what Mugabe will be doing if he pulls out of the Commonwealth.
Enyioma Anaba, Nigeria

Where's the "coalition" to sort out Mugabe? The UK surely has a moral duty to relieve Zimbabweans from the grip of this dictator.
John M, LyneMeads, UK

Inviting Mugabe would create an impression that internationally he is still regarded as a respected and legitimately elected leader, when in fact, these days, he is neither.
Johann, London, UK

If he is really interested in his people and land reforms, he should have started landed reforms a long ago
Albert P'Rayan, India / Rwanda
Robert Mugabe is a dictator who is really not interested in developing Zimbabwe. Mr Mugabe mis-governance takes Zimbabwe back to the 19th century. If he is really interested in his people and land reforms, he should have started landed reforms a long ago. The international community should ask Mr Mugabe to step down and free Zimbabwe from his brutality.
Albert P'Rayan, Indian expat in Rwanda

I consider Zimbabwe a stable democracy by third world standards. A loosing candidate in an election can go to the court of law. That is what the opposition MDC has done and every one should wait for that. Why should countries which did not send observers to the 2002 elections in Zimbabwe be the first to condemn the elections and call for sanctions against Zimbabwe? The world is being cheated by the UK Australia and New Zealand.

The land issue and sovereignty were at the centre of the elections in Zimbabwe. The unrepentant white farmers are to blame for the mess in which they find themselves for not wanting to share land with blacks voluntarily. The UK, Australia and New Zealand should engage instead of condemning Harare.
Anold Ndebele, Johannesburg ;South Africa

Mugabe blames the white people for everything. According to Mugabe they 'invented' AIDS to kill the black people - can no-one see what a fool Mugabe is?!! He has no-one else to blame for his inability to rule a country properly. Let him pull out of the Commonwealth as he threatens - he has already been kicked out and no-one has missed him.
Bronwyn, UK

We are not worried about meetings or clubs we want food in our tummies
Stan Gondo, Harare, Zimbabwe
I just have one question for all of you guys: Do you really care about us or you just want to protect your kith & kin whose purported land has been taken away by Mugabe. Because if you did like you say then something would have been done to help us. We are not worried about meetings or clubs we want food in our tummies. Think about it and stop being emotional but pragmatic.
Stan Gondo, Harare, Zimbabwe

If the Commonwealth does not make a stand against Mugabe, who will? Right now the South African and Nigerian governments cannot influence him to better the plight of his starving countrymen, instead both governments lie about the 'progress' being made in getting the opposition to talk with Mugabe's government, yet anyone with any sense knows that this is not happening, and will not happen until Mugabe is completely cut off and his trickery revealed for what it is! Maybe if the Commonwealth can get the ball rolling, the rest of the world will also see the situation for what it is - a senile old man trying by all means to hold onto power, regardless of how the Zimbabwean people suffer in the process!
Mike, Minnesota, USA ( ex Zimbabwe)

Mugabe has problems to attend to at home. He should not cry to fly to Abuja where African heads of state will be wining and dining, while his people wallow in abject poverty. In my view, the C/wealth has outlived its usefulness. Why should Africans be so keen about attending a summit, which just reminds us of atrocities of colonialism?
Reginald, Lusaka, Zambia

Leave Zimbabwe and Africans to solve their own problems, they are capable of doing so. British intervention is nothing but paternalistic and racist.
Adnan Perreira, Georgetown, Guyana

To Adnan Perreira: Is it really racist and paternalistic to provide aid to feed starving people?
MP, Sheppey, UK

What does Commonwealth do that Mugabe and Zimbabweans would miss out?
Joseph Nambale, Lusaka, Zambia
Mugabe might be wrong but excluding him form discussing issues that affect his country is totally immoral and not fair to the Zimbabweans. In fact, what does Commonwealth do that Mugabe and Zimbabweans would miss out? Apart from sucking money from poor African countries!!! Comrade Mugabe, you are right, quit the organisation and reorganise your country's affairs. We have always belonged to the Commonwealth but there's never a benefit from it! For someone to go to Europe from our region, you really have to struggle to get a visa or permit!!!
Joseph Nambale, Lusaka, Zambia

Mugabe is a very crafty dictator. His winning card has been the land issue -which almost every African would agree with, but now people have awaken to the fact that he is doing more harm than good to the country and has been hiding behind the land issue. It's time more pressure for Mugabe to step down is applied.
Innocent Mugovera, Cambridge

Leave Mugabe alone. Leave Africa alone. You are not in control of your own action, how can you control others. Enough is enough.
Lamin Jawara, Baddibou Kerewan, Gambia.

Commonwealth decisions are recommendations for member states; no one can be forced to comply. Unfortunately, dictators like Mugabe won't alter their behaviour voluntarily. Why doesn't the UK bring the issue before the UN Security Council? Weapons sales to Zimbabwe should be stopped and Mugabe's foreign bank accounts frozen until democratic elections take place and the farmland is given back to its owners regardless of their colour.
Ursula, Regensburg, Germany

No wonder Mr. Mugabe feels victimized
Nizam Addien Yagoub, Saudi Arabia
Robert Mugabe has the right to criticize the UK, Australia and New Zealand for pursuing an "Anglo-Saxon unholy alliance" against him and singling him out of all nations for redistributing white lands among the original black owners; this action is in effect a reversal of the injustice that was done in Zimbabwe (Rhodesia) in the past. When the white colonialists conquered Africa, they confiscated the lands and enslaved the native blacks for centuries as labourers on their farms. The situation is different now and your perspective of the situation depends on which side of the conflict you are on. The Israelis have been doing the same to the Palestinians for the last 5 decades and no western country has ever opposed it; no wonder Mr. Mugabe feels victimized.
Nizam Addien B. Yagoub, Saudi Arabia

I used a pseudonym to write this letter. The reason is that part of my family still live in Zimbabwe and there is a strong possibility that the CIO - Mugabe's brutal and ruthless secret police might lay hands on my family. We who have left Zimbabwe our beloved country - and we are white, brown AND black -know what we are talking about. Some of us were victims ourselves, some others know victims and some of us were just lucky enough to escape. That is the reality of the time. Oh yes, Zimbabwe has always allowed free elections. But Mugabe was never challenged because the country celebrated its independence for 15 years.

When the celebration was over and the hangover started, the people started to get unhappy and wanted to remove Mr Mugabe through free and fair elections and only then - after 20 years - did Mugabe show his real self! It was never about land redistribution - he had 20 years to organise that and he never bothered to do it in an orderly manner when people were still on his side. So don't try to delude history with half-truths!
Nic White, New Zealand

Not that I support Mugabe, but why then are Australia and Britain lobbying to have Pakistan re-instated when we all know that it is led by a man who came to power in a military coup and is a dictator who will not let go the reins of power, to have any moral authority, they(dictators) should all be treated alike
Madzi, Zimbabwe

He was ready to exploit any fault line that emerged in the Commonwealth group
Peter Kebuile, Gaborone, Botswana
The issue was never whether there should be land re-distribution but rather that it should be done in an orderly fashion - that is, in a way that does not undermine the rule of law and economic stability of the country. From the very beginning Mugabe proceeded to racialise the land issue and to demonise all those opposed to the way he was going about the reforms. He was ready to exploit any fault line that emerged in the Commonwealth group and international community as a whole to divide it and in the process legitimise his actions.
Peter Kebuile, Gaborone, Botswana

It is unfortunate that the Commonwealth has decided not to invite Zimbabwe. They have only one reason not to invite Mugabe. His speeches in the past international meetings have left Tony Blair and his western cronies embarrassed. This is the only reason why these countries have threatened to boycott if Mugabe attended.
Wil Majaji, Zimbabwe, USA

It is about time the Commonwealth did something. Mugabe should be prosecuted for his crimes against Zimbabweans.
Lloyd Rundle, Francistown, Botswana

The Commonwealth has only one weapon against Mugabe, and that is that it is a club he would like to be a member of. By denying him access to this club it sends a clear message that, unlike in his own country, he cannot bully his way into everything. Zimbabweans know that the whole land grab was a sham, yet they are not even allowed to talk about it!
Alex, Zimbabwean in UK

He says the "white section" of the Commonwealth holds a grudge against him due to his policy of seizing white-owned farms for redistribution to landless blacks. The landless blacks seem to be the government, their families and supporters. Mugabe's supporters seem to want to ignore this
David, UK

He was ready to exploit any fault line that emerged in the Commonwealth group to divide it
Peter Kebuile, Gaborone, Botswana
It's a bit late in the day for the international community to be seeking to mobilise against Mugabe - and I doubt much will come of it. The problem is that Mugabe has been allowed to exploit the land issue for his own political ends. The issue was never whether there should be land re-distribution but rather that it should be done in an orderly fashion. That is, in a way that does not undermine the rule of law and economic stability of the country. From the very beginning Mugabe proceeded to racialise the land issue and to demonise all those opposed to the way he was going about the reforms. He was ready to exploit any fault line that emerged in the Commonwealth group and international community as a whole to divide it and in the process legitimise his actions.

Unfortunately the reaction of some in the UK and around the world gave him the ammunition he needed to transform a battle for political survival into a 'second struggle for liberation' thus winning the sympathy of some African leaders. We in Botswana now find ourselves bearing the brunt of the economic crises in Zimbabwe : tourism is down and Zimbabwean illegal immigrants are flooding the country bringing with them the criminal element.
Peter Kebuile, Gaborone, Botswana

Mugabe's Achille's Heel is his Pride. His own people suffer at all costs, as a result. At last, the Commonwealth proves to have elements that can hit home - at the same time bringing some realisation of the realities of good governance as a bench mark for other African states to move on. At last, vital international disapproval could start the desperately needed loosening of Mugabe's grip - perhaps persuading even his Benefactors to take another look.
Mwana Marabini, Italy- ex Zimbabwe.

Why should Robert Mugabe be barred from the Abuja summit? Has he really acted worse than most other commonwealth leaders, some of whom host this summit? The Commonwealth has continued to lose relevance in the world today, largely as a result of its disillusioned selective justice and double standards inflicted on less influential nations concerning the issues of "bad governance", massively rigged elections, police strangulation of the opposition and endemic official corruption.

The prime ministers of Australia and Great Britain were right on their stance, but that stance should apply across the board. It is grossly unfair to single Mugabe out for bashing while they were prepared to condone and dine with other hypocrites guilty of exactly the same offence in their own countries as Robert Mugabe.
Brendan, Nigeria

Commonwealth summit shuns Mugabe
25 Nov 03  |  Africa
Zimbabwe ban extended
16 Mar 03  |  Africa

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