Morgan Tsvangirai will apparently be charged with using foreign funds in contravention of Zimbabwean law to support his partys attempts to overthrow the regime. Robert Mugabe is under pressure from hardliners within his party, we are told, to take these drastic measures.
What the Nobel Prize ceremony in Oslo today demonstrates very dramatically is that locking up so-called dissidents only serves to draw the worlds attention to undemocratic regimes and their abuse of citizens rights. Liu Xiabo should have been there in Oslo to receive the Nobel Peace Prize; instead he is serving an eleven year sentence for subversion. His empty chair at the ceremony was a potent reminder to the world of Chinas failure to match its rapid economic growth with a similar increase in human rights. Not only is Liu Xiabo in prison, his wife Liu Xia is under house arrest and other less well-known dissidents are prevented from leaving China. The result of all this was that no one from China was present in Oslo to witness their countryman receive this prestigious award. As well as stopping their own people travelling to the ceremony the Chinese authorities have exerted maximum pressure on governments not to attend the ceremony. They have condemned the award to Liu Xiabo as interference in their affairs and described Xiabo as a criminal.
No doubt the Mugabe regime will follow much the same propaganda line if they do go ahead and arrest Tsvangirai and ban the MDC. Mugabes oft repeated sovereignty argument will be heard again with even more vehemence. Translated, it means We will do what the hell we like and no one will stop us. Zimbabwe, however, hardly has the economic clout of China to silence western critics afraid of losing business opportunities to conduct lucrative trade deals with the Asian Tiger. Imprisoning Tsvangirai will only serve to re-focus the worlds attention on Mugabes thirty years of despotic rule, not to mention the slaughter of 20.000 Ndebele people in the Gukuruhundi massacres, the inhuman Murambatsvina campaign of 2005, the violence of the 2008 elections and present violent attacks on opposition activists, journalists and teachers.
While earlier Wikileaks revealed the irritation of diplomats with the Zimbabwean oppositions failure to unite and bring about change, there is little doubt that locking up Tsvangirai will create another martyr to join the ranks of Aung San Su Kyi, Liu Xiabo and imprisoned activists all over the world. It could be argued that Mugabe does not give a damn for world opinion as long as he remains in power but saner voices may persuade him that further international isolation will do little to ensure his chances of survival as a part of the Government of National Unity. Robert Mugabe was quick to congratulate Laurent Gbagbo on his so-called election victory in the Ivory Coast. The ECOWAS acting president, the Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan was more forthright, Weve seen these governments of national unity, it(sic) doesnt really work. Elections have been declared, somebody has won so he (Gbagbo) has to hand over. Interestingly, Ivory Coast has been suspended from the regional bloc; if the hardliners get their way in Harare and we see a violent clampdown on all opposition in the country, with the army out on the streets doing openly what they are now doing covertly, will Mugabe still be able to count on the continuing support of SADC? What the Wikileaks have revealed is that governments rarely express openly their true opinions of errant leaders of rogue states but if the little leaks are to be believed more than a few African leaders are getting very fed up with Robert Mugabes leadership.
Yours in the (continuing) struggle PH. aka Pauline Henson.Post published in: Uncategorized