Zimbabwe: Escalating Violence and China rushing to Mugabe’s aid

It may have been an oversight on the part of President Thabo Mbeki when he omitted the Zimbabwe issue from the agenda of the UN Security Council Meeting he is chairing, but considering said President’s loathe-ness to broach the issue, it probably was not.

The omission did not stop the Council attendees from raising the subject though. With the support of some of the western countries, UN Chief Ban Ki-Moon, pointed out that: “The Zimbabwean authorities and the countries of the region have insisted that these matters are for the region to resolve, but the international community continues to watch and wait for decisive action.”

The insistence of SADC leaders – Mbeki and Mugabe in particular – that it is an African issue that should be managed by Africans, was initially respected by the global community. Now, weeks later and with no progress to show, international pressure is mounting on Mbeki, whose ‘quiet diplomacy’ approach towards the problems faced by its neighbour is clearly failing.

Back in South Africa, the ANC too is indicating that they are losing their patience with Mr. Mbeki’s take on the issue. ANC president Zuma, in particular, expressed his concern that: “The region cannot afford a deepening crisis in Zimbabwe. The situation is more worrying now given the reported violence that has erupted in the country.”

Zanu-PF violence has indeed been escalating.

Incidents of Violence and Intimidation
1) The number of land grabs has increased to 120. Workers on the occupied farms have been severely beaten, chased off the lands and told that if they return they would be killed. The crops, so desperately needed by the country, are not being harvested and sheep, cattle and chickens are being slain indiscriminately. Police intervention, when called for, is not all that forthcoming.
2) At least 150 cases of torture have been treated by Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights members since the elections ended. This is the tip of the iceberg considering that most of these attacks take place in remote areas and that the overwhelming majority of victims don’t go for treatment.
3) At least two more MDC supporters were killed in Karoi and Mudzi respectively
4) In Magunje, a Chinese psychological torture method was employed by making villagers hold bullets while contemplating their reasons for voting MDC. They were then asked: “Do you want to start a war with Zanu PF?”
5) Mugabe’s private militia have been issued with army combat gear to prevent the victims from distinguishing official soldiers from his private militia.
6) In Magunje, two village elders who defied the threat from soldiers were stripped of their eldership by the soldiers.
7) Villages in the vicinity of Chatsworth and Chiguhuni were raided and polling agents who worked for the MDC during the elections were abducted.
8 ) More than 500 villagers’ houses were raided and set alight in Mutasa South.
9) An MDC supporter in Gokwe was admitted to hospital after having been shot in both legs.
10) In Seke, Zaka, Tsholotso and other rural areas, a group of war veterans wielding guns, threatened to kill those who voted for the opposition and their families.
11) More than 50 MDC members were arrested as a result of the MDC organised stay-away.
12) Students demonstrating against Mugabe at Bulawayo’s Nust University were beaten indiscriminately by police, which led to the demonstration turning into a riot.

The Chinese Factor
Cracks in Messrs. Mugabe and Mbeki’s ‘By Africans For Africa’ are showing. Over the past 24 hours, there have been at least two Zimbabwe-related incidents that sports direct Chinese involvement:

1) Confirmed: A Chinese ship bearing 77 tons in mortars, ammunition and rocket-propelled grenades, destined for Zimbabwe, were cleared through customs in Durban today. This is in spite of the fact that international sanctions are in place, banning the sale of weapons to Zimbabwe. According to a US-based intelligence organisation, Zimbabwe has also recently bought trainer fighter jets, radar installations, fighter plans and military vehicles worth $240 million. When asked to comment on why the cargo is being cleared, January Masilela -who chairs the Scrutiny Committee of the National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC) in addition to being our Secretary of Defence – said that it was a ‘simple’ transaction between Zimbabwe and China.

2) Confirmed: A group of Chinese soldiers were spotted working with Zimbabwean soldiers in the eastern border city of Mutare. According to the Holiday Inn in Mutare, both the Zimbabwean and the Chinese soldiers are staying in their hotel. The soldiers are armed with pistols, AK 47 rifles, batons, tear gas and water canons. According to the Holiday Inn, the group is booked to remain for a week.

China has everything to gain: A jab at the West, access to Zimbabwe’s largely untapped diamond, gold and platinum resources, and ivory.

These two incidents may well be the tip of yet another iceberg in the Zimbabwean sea. Considering the Chinese involvement in Zimbabwe, is the matter still regional and isolated to the SADC community? Or has it now formally graduated to an international level?

Regardless of the answer, ‘By Africans For Africa’, has acquired a false note in its repetitive chant…

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One Response

  1. […] HT: The Word Write […]

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