Friday, December 19, 2008

Mugabe defiant as cholera kills 1,100

Robert Mugabe declared Zimbabwe belonged only to him adding that only Zimbabweans could remove him from office. An election, perceived by many as flawed, failed to remove the leader earlier this year and since then Mugabe has become all the more belligerent. He has accused other African leaders and the West of plotting invasions and even of causing the current cholera pandemic. His statement today seems only to reveal how out of touch and perhaps paranoid the African leader truly is. “Zimbabwe is mine” he told members of Zanu-PF party conference. “I will never, never, never surrender ... Zimbabwe belongs to us, not the British” he continued.

The collapse of the country has begun to rally African leaders together in a call for Mugabe to stand dow. Already Botswana and Kenya have called for action and on Friday Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade became the latest senior African politician calling for Mr Mugabe to quit. He told the French newspaper, La Croix, that he had supported Robert Mugabe in the past but was forming the view that the president was now the cause of his country's problems [BBC].

And the problems are more than clear. With massive inflation, huge unemployment the economy has all but collapsed [CNN]. There is little in the shops and now a series health problem is threatening not only the Zimbabwean population but also that of its neighbours. Manuel Lopez Iglesias of MSF told Channel Four News there were bodies everywhere and described conditions as medieval. The death toll has risen to more than 1,100 with more than 20,000 infected by the deadly disease. But the figures may be much higher with both health workers and media unable to operate freely in the country.

Of course the demise of Zimbabwe is not a major threat to the West and fails to attract the same attention as the threat of terrorism and rogue states. Help only arrives in the form of aid agencies such as the UN, Médecins Sans Frontières and the ICRC. Even media reports are scant. Channel Four News devoted less than two minutes to the story in its half hour programme and though Sky News and the BBC cover the story it is often buried. CNN and al Jazeera have been more prominent with their reporting. The Arabic station has a greater advantage of being able to operate in the country and bring viewers a broader perspective. Tonight the story topped al Jazeera's headlines. But for other broadcasters the story was way down the list. Zimbabwe is in danger not only of destroying itself, but doing so while no-one watches and does even less

No comments: