Friday, January 10, 2003
Zimwatch: Slow Steps to Genocide - 10th January 2003, 19.00

Peter Oborne in The Spectator has just spent two weeks in Zimbabwe in the guise of a golfer and has brought back an eyewitness account of the painful destruction of that country. Away from the towns and the eyes of the world, the political murders, the starvation and the rise of a new army of thugs indicates that the regime will endeavour to survive even as it increases its grip upon the nation.

In his submission to the Centre for Policy Studies, Oborne provides a more detailed list of the miseries faced by Zimbabwe and calls for the immediate application of sanctions. The British government is condemned:

Oborne describes the response of the British Government to this catastrophe as "negligent, cowardly, posturing and hypocritical". Their lack of concern is shown by:

§ the procrastination in imposing sanctions, compounded by a readiness to undermine the integrity of the sanctions regime once they had been imposed; § the defeatist government briefing to the media that Tony Blair's 'mission to Africa' should not be judged on Zimbabwe;

§ the failure of the British Government to call a debate in Parliament;

§ the curious circumstances concerning the removal of Peter Hain as Africa Minister in January 2001. Hain, the only Foreign Office Minister to have grasped the severity of the situation, was moved within days of a harsh letter complaining about his attitude to Zimbabwe from the South African Foreign Minister;

§ the decision to hand control of policy to an Under-Secretary of State, Baroness Amos, based in the House of Lords;

§ the casual and muddled handling of the England cricket team's visit to Zimbabwe for next month's World Cup.

If Africa does not wish to wake up to another stain on its sullied reputation, especially after the pretensions of Mbeki, then they must act to intervene and stop this disaster. They must show their maturity or understand that the rest of the world will view them as bloodstained, amoral and incapable.


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