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April 21, 2008
Zimbabwe Descends into Madness
As if 80% unemployment and 100,000% inflation wasn't enough to kill hope in the afflicted land of Zimbabwe, now comes the Mugabe crackdown on the opposition - savage beatings by the dictator's bullyboys that is driving many citizens out of the country:
When a shallow, glassy river and a few coils of razor wire are the only things separating one of Africa’s most developed countries from one of its most miserable, the inevitable result is millions of illegal border jumpers. But South African and Zimbabwean human rights groups say that the flow of people into South Africa has been surging in the three weeks since Zimbabwe’s disputed election and during the violent crackdown that followed. One Zimbabwean named Washington, who goes back and forth across the border ferrying Super Sure cake flour and Blazing Beef potato snacks, said the government was now using food as a weapon and channeling much of the United Nations-donated grain to supporters of the ruling party.In a country where starvation can only be avoided by supporting the government that is starving you to death, you know you have entered a surreal world where the normal impulses of people are subsumed by the even more basic instinct of survival.
“As we speak,” he said, “people are starving.” He seemed more defeated than anything else. “People hate the government,” he said. “But they are too scared to fight it.”
Commercials are now running on Zimbabwean TV showing grainy images of captives from the liberation war in the 1970s and reminding citizens not to disobey their leaders, recent arrivals said.
The situation is hopeless and can only be improved by the intervention of an outside power. But Zimbabwe's neighbors - more prosperous and peaceful - don't want the responsibility of ministering to a failed state that is further coming apart as a result of political violence.
The British would ordinarily be called upon to assist in removing Mugabe, a result of their status as ex-colonial overlord. But Gordon Brown's government will take no direct action for the same reason that Zimbabwe's neighbors are reluctant; it would be Somalia all over again which is something no one wants to get involved.
Mugabe will apparently win. What kind of victory he can claim, standing atop a heap of skulls as the victor of the dead and near dead, is open to question.