Saturday, May 12, 2007

Bloggers turn up heat on Zimbabwe

zimbabwe-policeBBC News
Friday, 16 March 2007, 09:19 GMT

Turmoil in Zimbabwe this week refocused the world's attention on the 27-year rule of President Robert Mugabe. The world of blogging was no exception as the BBC News website discovered.

From Harare, Bev Clark writing on kubatanablogs offered an interesting analogy about the country's situation.

"I've been seeing Zimbabwe like a cake lately," she wrote on the day opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, arrested for attending a weekend rally, was taken to hospital after two days in police detention.

"Morgan Tsvangirai, Raymond Majongwe, Mike Davies, and Grace Kwinje (etc) are the candles burning big and bright. The icing is made up of a small section of civic and political activists. While the actual cake itself comprises the Zimbabwean people."

That is not where it ends, the cake, it seems, has just been put in the oven.

"Until we, the Zimbabwean people, come to the party and support civic and political leaders working for change, not much will happen. The cake has got to cook. It's got to get warm, and bake and maybe even burn, but it can't stay like it has been - unmovable.

"Because if it does, no matter how many Highfield rallies we have, and no matter how iconic Tsvangirai becomes, the struggle for freedom in Zimbabwe will remain lop-sided."

The Bearded Man is also not convinced that this is the beginning of the end of Mr Mugabe's rule, as some commentators would have it.

"No doubt the fall-out over this violence will last only a few days before the world neatly sweeps it under the carpet - and the dirty underbelly of African politics..."

He then goes on to echo a plea made by many Western governments to Zimbabwe's immediate neighbours.

"Please would someone out there actually DO something about this Mugabe person?"


Who exactly is being asked to do something? Well, South Africa - Zimbabwe's powerful neighbour to the south - for a start.

"South Africa's so called 'quiet diplomacy' has achieved precisely nothing in Zimbabwe," blogged Tony Sharp on The Waendel Journal.

"Its call to Mugabe yesterday to respect the rights of citizens will change nothing. Mugabe, like his ilk elsewhere in the world, recognises cowardice when he sees it and knows that talk is cheap."

In a volatile situation where perceptions of events are so important, The Zimbabwe Pundit - subtitled "the world as seen through the eyes of a Zimbabwean" - seems to be losing patience with the opposition in the country.

"The media in Zimbabwe is owned and operated by the Mugabe regime. So in Sunday's aftermath Zimbabweans are being force fed a diet of MDC thuggery, non-attendance and opposition violence. This makes me wonder when the pro-democracy movement will get its act together in terms of creating its own robust media and information response unit."

Steph's Blog would beg to differ though - and sticks the boot into the BBC while she is at it, comparing a report on violence at an opposition rally on Sunday in state-owned The Herald newspaper with one of ours.

"The Herald is a Zimbabwean government-owned newspaper and the BBC is a British government-owned broadcaster. The Herald's version is pro-Mugabe and pro-police but at least it was there, the BBC wasn't. Its version is MDC propaganda, with a little bit of British imperialism chucked in," she blogged.

"Morgan Tsvangirai is a Western-sponsored 'terrorist', he plotted in London to assassinate Mugabe and overthrow the elected government. There is nothing democratic about the MDC. The only reason the British government is anti-Mugabe is they still consider Zimbabwe to be Rhodesia."

'Breached conditions'

The Radical Soldier of Zimbabwe!, meanwhile, is having none of it and offers what could be a radical solution to challenges facing the country.

"Europe intervened in the Balkans and the 'coalition of the willing' did a job in Iraq, but nobody seems to care about Zimbabwe," he lamented.

"Britain, in my view, has more legal grounds to invade Zimbabwe than it did Iraq. Britain was the former colonial power in Rhodesia and negotiated the Lancaster House Agreement. The agreement is actually worth reading. It sets out the principles under which democratic Zimbabwe should have been governed, and was in fact governed for the first few years.

"Mugabe has clearly violated the agreement. He has breached conditions including white representation in parliament [NB this clause has expired], independence of the judiciary, citizenship and payment of pensions. These should be sufficient grounds for Britain to demand change or otherwise invade. Who knows? Maybe John Howard will even commit a couple of hundred Australian troops."

Laer from Orange County California sees little chance of this happening though - mainly because of another world power.

"The big problem for me is that China doesn't seem to care. It will continue to block UN efforts to protect Zimbabweans from Mugabe, proving once again the powerlessness of the world body," he blogged on Cheat Seeking Missiles.

So is there any hope at all?

"From what I can see, the UN is frozen, the African Union is powerless to do anything, and the world just watches," he said.
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