Wednesday, April 23, 2008


This is a map showing Zimbabwe in red. Zim is one of South Africa's 'northern neighbors.' For quick facts on the country, click here.
Putting my internet woes into perspective... while I have been waiting rather impatiently for my internet to be put in, all of Zimbabwe has been waiting to find out what the future of their country will hold. All of us in South Africa are also holding our breath, praying that the situation will resolve peacefully and justly.

Just a little background: Zimbabwe held its presidential elections on March 29, 2008. For years and years it has been ruled by Robert Mugabe, who led the country to independence, but then never gave up his power and has become a full on dictator. Under him, Zimbabwe has gone from one of the 'gems' of Africa with one of the best economies on the continent, to have the highest inflation int the entire world. It literally takes millions of Zimbabwean dollars to buy a meal. There are dozens and dozens of other problems as well within the country, but I am not qualified to say much about them, so here's a quick excerpt from Wikipedia. :)

"Zimbabwe held a presidential election along with a parliamentary election on March 29, 2008.[1] The three major candidates were Robert Mugabe of the Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic ChangeSimba Makoni, an independent.[2] The election was expected, because of Zimbabwe's dire economic situation, to provide President Mugabe with his toughest electoral challenge to date. Mugabe's opponents have been critical of the handling of the electoral process, and the government has been accused of planning to rig the election; Human Rights Watch said that the election was likely to be "deeply flawed".[3]

No official results have been released; the failure to release results has been strongly criticized by the MDC, which is seeking an order from the High Court that would force their release. An independent projection placed Tsvangirai in the lead, but without the majority needed to avoid a second round. The MDC has, however, declared that Tsvangirai won a narrow majority in the first round and has refused to participate in any second round.[4] ZANU-PF has said that Mugabe will participate in a second round if one is necessary;[5] however, ZANU-PF is alleging that some electoral officials, in connection with the MDC, fraudulently reduced Mugabe's score, and the party has requested a recount.",_2008

Needless to say, the country is in a terrible, terrible position. Based on polls and such, the opposition won about 60% of the vote, but the Zimbabwean government has not release the results. So since the elections, everyone has been essentially holding their breath, seeing if the government will declare Mugabe the winner, which will almost certainly lead to riots by supporters of the opposition, hold out indefinitely, which will surely at some point lead to a collapse of the system in some way, or find a way to allow Mugabe to leave - if that happens, no telling what the outcome will be.

n the meantime, China has been exposed for attempting to deliver a ship full of small arms to Zimbabwe. The international community has been outraged over the fact they would sell weapons to a country so clearly on the brink of violence, and when the ship tried to land in South Africa, it was turned away. It then attempted Mozambique, and was turned away. Last I read, It was headed to Angola, but the U.S. State Department has stepped in and asked ALL African countries to deny access to the ship.

This of course has raised questions about the sovereignity of Zimbabwe - as a nation, isn't it allowed to buy as many weapons as it wants? Isn't China allowed to sell to whomever it wants? And at the same time, over the idea of human rights abuses - isn't the international community responsible for preventing small arms from going into the hands of people on the brink of a violent conflict?

It is a sticky situation, and well worth following. Click here to read more about what's has been happening with the Chinese ship.

On the ground here, people are tense. Thousands of refugees, fearing the outbreak of violence, are spilling over the northern border of South Africa every day (very far away from where I am, no worries). We have many Zimbabwean students at Rhodes, and my heart aches for them as they watch the unravelling of the situation. Most of their families are still in Zim. Read more about the fears of escalating violence here.

The South African government... isn't doing a lot. The public here is in general very upset at the lack of government reaction over the event. President Mbeki was even quoted as saying that there "is no crisis in Zimbabwe." On Friday, students at Rhodes held a protest over the lack of South African response to Zim labeled "Blood on our hands" - the students painted their hands red, showing that if we stand by and do nothing, we are going to be responsible if it escalates into violence.

If you are a prayer, pray for Zim. The country is on the brink of something huge, no matter what the outcome. And what happens there could very well affect the stability of the entire region.

Note: All three political cartoons are taken from on of my favorite South African cartoonests, Zapiro:

1 comment:

Erin said...


This is a fabulous overview of the crisis in Zimbabwe. I'm glad you posted because I was feeling a little worried for you. I think I'm going to print out your post for class on Monday--we've been talking about Zimbabwe and what the international community should do, if anything.