It has been a revelation this past week registering the reactions of people on the political Left when the subject of Zimbabwe creeps into the conversation.
I have been following the fortunes of Morgan Tsvangarai for some time because of my British friends’ admiration for his valiant battle against the tyranny of Robert Mugabe. These friends have family in Zimbabwe on farmland there until suffering total destruction and even brutal murder in recent years.
Last week Morgan, the head of the Movement for Democratic Change, was nearly beaten to death in what was described as a police detention after a anti-government demonstration. His colleagues, including two prominent female officials, were brutalised and barely left alive. According to reports from African correspondents in London an activist was shot dead and then the mourners at his funeral shot by police. One corpse was taken miles away and buried by the authorities to avoid a further demonstration.
This weekend Mp Nelson Chamisa was stopped at Harare airport and brutally beaten as he was preparing to leave for a conference in Belgium. Already badly injured from last week’s police station attack, it is feared he has a cracked skull. Arthur Mutambara, leader of one of the factions of the MDC, was re-arrested on Saturday, and is now being held at Harare central police station. His fate does not bear thinking about. Frail Grace Kwinje and Sekai Holland, who also suffered beatings in the police roundup, were on their way to South Africa to receive treatment on Saturday, Tafadzwa Mugabe, a lawyer who accompanied them, told the BBC's World Today programme.
Ms Mugabe said all their papers were in order but just before boarding the flight officials said the women needed a supplemental "clearance letter from the ministry of health".
This is a sorry state of affairs. Two British friends, one of whom I had not heard from in a year, rang me last week to thank America for intervening before Tsvangarai was murdered. Indeed, it was the US envoy who protested and was reported to have been instrumental in getting the wounded activists to hospital. The American Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice also intervened. President Mugabe reacted by threatening to expel any Western envoys who interfered in the running of the country.
What this all adds up to is a remarkable sequence of reactions that have come my way in the past few days from anti-war, anti-Israel, anti-Bush campaigners and hangers-on. I rang a colleague who is active with the anti-war brigade and she very nearly deafened me with a screaming rebuke that went something like this: ’ There are plenty of people dying in the Congo and Rwanda and nobody is making headlines about that.’ I tried to explain that Zimbabwe, once the Orchard, Bread Basket and Garden of Africa, was now suffering 80% unemployment and 1700% inflation, not to mention the murders of white farmers, and she could only rage more about how she ‘did not care’ about Morgan Tsvangarai.
I thought I had caught this lady on a bad day. But then I saw Clare Short MP on BBC ‘Question Time’ and to my utter disbelief she showed not one ounce of sympathy for the campaigners and said that the rest of Africa was not stepping in to help because Britain had sullied its reputation with them when it had expressed concern for the white farmers. What twisted logic! Nobody on the panel challenged her on this, but I was stunned. Clare Short will spend hours complaining with considerable passion about the plight of the Palestinians, but where is her compassion for the people of Zimbabwe?
This puzzle of the heartless Left came better into focus tonight when I watched ‘Dateline London’ on BBC News 24, and Abdel Bari Atwan of Al Quds newspaper said the problems of Zimbabwe stem solely from the sanctions imposed by Britain and America. (Oh, yes, blame evil America for the countless murders and burning of farms across that once fertile paradise.) Thankfully the panel demolished this idea and suggested it was the brutality of Mugabe and the stupidity of his replacing the white farmers with cronies who knew nothing about agriculture that had caused the famine and economic catastrophe gripping the nation. ( Later Bari Atwan made sure to get in a dig at the USA about using up 90% of the world’s consumer goods each year. When will these Third World pundits get a life? )
So, it seems that the Left that rails against Israel and the USA and organises marches for the liberation of Palestine is going to do nothing about the plight of Zimbabwe because that means siding with America. Such twisted logic is sickening.
As of this posting the brutality of the regime is becoming the shame of Africa. Desmond Tutu has scolded the rest of Africa for doing nothing and sitting in silence. If the USA has to step in to save Zimbabwe from total destruction so be it; if saving lives and putting food on tables is the result then God Bless America, and Clare Short, Bari Atwan and the ‘peace’ movement be damned.
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