Our day of shame over Zimbabwe

While Mugabe butchers his way to another stolen term, the commonwealth does.... nothing

Mark Steyn
The National Post
7 March 2002 E-Mail this page to a friend

About a year ago, I wrote about Tony Blair's strange project to Canadianize Britain -- transforming the House of Lords into an Ottawa-style Senate of cronies and pliant deadbeats, introducing "asymmetrical federalism" to the Celtic provinces, etc. The curling fever that has gripped the United Kingdom since they trounced Kelley Law in Utah suggests that even Mr. Blair's electors are getting with the program.

And now, as further evidence, we have the Commonwealth Conference in Queensland, in which the traditionally Canadian role was played by the British Prime Minister. The issue this time was Zimbabwe, "the jewel of Africa," as Robert Mugabe told Ian Smith, his notorious white racist predecessor at independence 20 years ago. After two decades of Mr. Mugabe's stewardship, per capita income has fallen
After 20 yrs of Mugabe's stewardship, per capita income has fallen by half, inflation is running at over 100% and unemployment at 60%, ...
by half, inflation is running at over 100% and unemployment at 60%, and the government has no idea how to correct any of these lamentable developments except by forcing white farmers off their property and turning productive land to dust. The official position is that the present situation is the fault of the white minority and of Britain. Mr. Mugabe, you'll recall, has described Mr. Blair as a "gay gangster" leading "the gay government of the gay United gay Kingdom."

Back in 1980, Robert Mugabe was a cold but courtly Afro-Marxist. He liked cricket for its "civilizing" influence, he had English hunting scenes on the place mats at Government House, and he spoke in the elegant vowels of a post-war London drawing room, not the flatted tones of the veldt settler. He was always an economic illiterate, and a vicious killer as required, but he was not, as he now appears to be, stark staring nuts. Many have speculated on the reasons for this. In Zimbabwe, it is widely believed he's been driven insane by tertiary syphilis. Reliable sources claim Mr. Mugabe's manhood has crumbled away to nothing. Last year, George Potgieter, the manager of a Harare engineering company, wound up in court after telling his workers that (according to court records) "they had no brains because they were being led by a President who had a rubber penis made in China". The workers immediately seized Mr. Potgieter and took him to the nearest police station for breaking the Law and Order Maintenance Act, which forbids exposing the President to "hatred, contempt or ridicule".

I'm not sure what extradition arrangements we have with Harare, so let me hasten to add that neither I nor the editors of the National Post are for one minute suggesting Mr. Mugabe has a rubber penis -- or, if he has, we're sure it's very impressive and top of the range, certainly not some factory-made Chinese thing. I'm no shrink, but it seems to me that if one's twig and berries crumble away to nothing it could conceivably lead one to an unusually intense animus against certain
government has no idea how to correct (this) except by forcing white farmers off their property and turning productive land to dust
forms of male sex. Thus, Mr. Mugabe's speech two years ago accusing Britain of a plot to impose homosexuality throughout the Commonwealth.

With his country crumbling away faster than his penis, there's now something for everyone to complain about. On the British right, Mugabe's assaults on the white farmers vindicate everything they always said about him. On the British left, the rampant homophobia cost him the support of all those champagne socialists who cheered his rise to power 20 years earlier. Mr. Blair arrived in Queensland determined that the Commonwealth "do the right thing". He took the moral high ground, the position traditionally held in Her Majesty's realms by Canada. Don't take my word for it. Michael Valpy wrote an excellent column on the subject in yesterday's Globe and Mail. Things have come to a pretty pass when a right-wing madman like me is saying some NDP squish is bang on target, but I honestly don't think I can improve on Valpy's summary:

"The issue was human rights, morality, a state that kills political opponents, corrupts elections, undermines judicial independence and restricts freedom of press and of assembly.

"British Prime Minister Tony Blair unequivocally wanted an immediate suspension of Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth. 'What is happening there is completely unacceptable, an outrage in terms of democracy,' he said.

"Jean Chrétien undermined him, and Canadian officials boasted of his success. 'This was Canada's day,' said one."

And what was done in Canada's name on Canada's day? A "compromise" was crafted postponing any action or ultimatum by the
Some 75,000 opposition supporters have been "displaced" in the last two months, over 30 political opponents have been murdered, and the electoral rolls are padded with phantoms and fictions
Commonwealth until after this weekend's elections. Instead, a one-page statement was issued expressing "deep concern" about the campaign and urging "all parties" to desist from violence. A nice touch, that "all parties." M. Chrétien claimed credit for coming up with, in his estimate, 80 per cent of the wording. It would salvage some shred of Canada's honour if the 20 per cent he didn't have his fingerprints on included that contemptible "all parties" line. But somehow I doubt it.

"Everybody has agreed that nothing will be done before the elections," said M. Chrétien. But everybody didn't stay agreed for long, and some of our Prime Minister's colleagues were at pains to distance themselves from "Canada's day." "The communique reads a little like everyone is responsible for the violence and intimidation. That is not the case," said New Zealand's Labour Prime Minister, Helen Clark, adding that the Commonwealth's failure to do anything makes it look "slightly silly." "We should have provided a far stronger statement and backed it up with action," said Tony Blair.

"Everybody has agreed that nothing will be done." There is Lloyd Axworthy's "soft power" doctrine in a nutshell: Consensus in the cause of inertia is no vice. Back in Harare, meanwhile, Robert Mugabe is busier than ever. Stunned by the Commonwealth's Chrétien-authored statement of "deep concern," he waited all of 20 minutes before reinstituting the draconian new election laws Zimbabwe's Supreme Court had slung out a week earlier. These laws permit Mr. Mugabe's Zanu-PF "supervisors" and their gangs to decide at the polling station who is eligible to vote. The "fairness" of the poll is no longer in doubt, only the result.

It's possible to rig everything in your favour and still lose (the last Quebec referendum comes to mind), and Mugabe himself seems slightly nervous as to whether he's done enough to steal victory. There are indications he's been looting the Treasury and making provisions for exile. But of his intent to steal
Everybody has agreed that nothing will be done
the election there's no doubt. Some 75,000 opposition supporters have been "displaced" in the last two months, over 30 political opponents have been murdered, and the electoral rolls are padded with phantoms and fictions. But on "Canada's day" at the Commonwealth Conference M. Chrétien neutered any attempt to do anything.

Sometimes we conservatives spend so much time mourning the loss of the old Dominion of Canada that we don't notice that the principled lefties have lost their Canada, too. After Vimy, Juno and the Red Ensign came the new Canada, the "honest broker" that 40 years ago insisted a racist South Africa could not remain in the Commonwealth, that apartheid was incompatible with membership in the international community. As Michael Valpy put it, "if any so-called white Commonwealth government does not have to defend its bona fides, it is Canada's." But the "honest broker" has decayed into a "soft power", and Lester B. Pearson's successor takes the view that "da Canadian values" are best expressed by a multilateral agreement to turn a blind eye. If it really is Canada's day, it's a day of which we should all be ashamed. In Queensland, da Canadian values were expressed by Tony Blair and Helen Clark.

Robert Mugabe is a pipsqueak, but, six months after Sept. 11, M. Chrétien is still in Durban mode, appeasing the world's freaks and failures. Whether or not Mr. Mugabe has no penis, M. Chrétien certainly has no balls.

The original was published in the National Post.

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Previous Visitor Comments

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a word about Zimbabwe because they stelecry support Mugabe. They are 2 faced arseholes Dywer Pilger and the rest are just dog turds selective reporters biased as hellgd

My knowledge of Korea is three years out of date, but unsles they have made changes, being the head of the Korean Workers Party does not make Kim Jonh-un the de facto head of state. Being the head of the National Defense Commission would do that. Unlike Kim Il-sung, the grandfather, who gave legitimacy of the Korean Workers Party and used it to balance the military, Kim Jong-il has governed through the military as the Chairman of the NDC. As for the generals getting rid of Kim Jong-un, that’s what all the defense analysts were saying about Kim Jong-il when KIS died. Yet he survived quite well. My best guess is that the same nation that gave us Juche, the Communist’ Kim dynasty, and the Moonies could also give North Korea another miserable decade or two of almost survival under the latest whatever leader.

China’s role in Africa would be just business, no codoitinns. Completely amoral, and utterly typical of China, Big Business generally and other nations.I am not China Bashing, China and other countries are aided and abetted by totally self-interested and corrupt business interests such as Goldman Sachs and others. Many of these American companies are quite happy to take part in the most revolting exploitation of other human beings.China’s coal industry is amonst the most dangerous in the world, envromental destruction in China is extreme. China may have some poor people (yes I know the statistics better than most) but she is not a developing nation. I believe tha as long as Chinese investments and co-operative endeavours in Africa are carried out in a fair and mutually benificial manner then there will be no problem. This has a political dimension. Just as Gadaffi effectively stole the oil wealth of his people and enriched himself, like Saddam Hussein, Robert Mugabe and many other despote, dictatorial regimes in Africa, then there is a problem.It is difficult to do business with wicked regimes, they plunder the wealth of their nations, enrich theselvesChina is not on its own here. Many other nations have behaved in a totally wicked and disgusting way. The US, UK and Australia included. China is no different and as in most things, far more efficient, patient, farsighted and intelligent. They usually are.Their regular and morally bankrupt use of the UN veto effectively prevents the efforts of responsible nations to try and prevent egregious human rights abuses.China has no morality and is prepared to support grossly evil human rights abusers to get what it wants.The money they spend generally does not benefit the people, oh sure some roads might get built, but the wealth is locked down by regimes like Mugabes, or the Sudanese.This is a complex issue, it is not a succes story. China is pursuing its national interest, (setting aside any consideration of the legitimacy of its leadership)nations have a right to do this. US companies have ruthlessly exploited for example, South American countries, overturned rightful governments (like Savador Allende’s september 11, 1971)Africa generally does NOT benefit much from FOREIGN AID even when freely given and not tied aid. It benefits less from Investment by other countries, China is as ruthless in getting what it wants as any other nation, possible more so as their leader said just business, no codoitinns even the evil rightist capitalist roaders now seem to have some limits these days and try, until vetoed by China, to prevent for example arms sales to people like Gadafi, adn the Sudanese genocidal regime. (Oh I’m fully aware the US has had a disgusting record here for example giving the Indonesian regime a list of many many thousand people for extermnination when Soeharto came to power, and giving them the go-ahead to invade Timor)The difference is for this writer that the deaths and suffering of people matter, be they China’s coal miners, China’s AIDS victims, China’s war dead at the hands of a wicked Japanese army of occupation, the incredible suffereing meted out to the victims of Ishis Unit 731, the American poor, victims of oppression, the Soviet pipeline disaster of 1982 caused by CIA sabotaged software (yes yes I know they ain’t seen nothing yet)China has an opportunity like no other the world has seen. I am completely against their government but I give them 101% for vision, patience, far sightedness. The US and the West has not a snowflakes chance in hell of not being comprehensively beaten on every front that matters, the have truly and completely bought the rope that they will be hung with, I doubt they will even get off meaningful retalisation if it ever came to it, but it won’t. They have been comprehensively and totally outplayed, aided and abetted by their own greed and a large number of useful idiots. China will have the resources of Africa sewn up locked down and the African’s will not significantly benefit, their resources will be sold offshore, all the key indicators of national well being will not change significantly until there are governments in Africa that spend the money on education and health nothing will change.The South Africans totally mismanaged the economic transition when the ANC came to power, it is totally improbable, almost inconceivable that the African countries which are very badly governed (Ghana, Nigeria & Kenya probably the better ones in indices of human well being) will be able to manage their resources and the billions they are paid for it by China very well.Personally I believe that people risking their lives in dangerous work should be paid more than a dollar an hour any idea what happens when they try and protest about terrible or unsafe codoitinns in Africa (and China for that matter)? I do.

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jamie sturtnot_at_giv.enand this had been 9 years ago!
and still the world does nothing!!!!

Ross Mckaymorfinybooks_at_yahoo.caZimbabwe
Even the country's name was changed, from Rhodesia to the current usage, in honur of a ruin, appropriately. Perhaps having rippied off our flag, the Trudea legatees will change Canada's name too,to something more multicult. Why not Amerasia?

france should do the right thing in this situation!

not availableAnonymousrat
i hope to hear from the international progress report this wednesday. i am awaiting the cconclusion made by the council if the fact of the departure of the persecution remorce.

not availableAnonymousrat
i hope to hear from the international progress report this wednesday. i am awaiting the cconclusion made by the council if the fact of the departure of the persecution remorce.

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