Genocide in D Minor
Thabo Mbeki has just spent 5 days in the Ivory Coast. This is on top of
several intensive face-to-face meetings with rebel leaders and the
Ivorian leadership. The reason? The Ivory Coast has imploded
economically and most serious of all - they have started killing each
The French army has arrived to protect French interests and lives and
to restore some order and in doing so they have incurred the wrath of
incumbent and taken a number of casualties. In retaliation the French
destroyed the Ivorian Air Force, demonstrating the superior capacity of
French military over the local.
The Ivory Coast has been independent for several decades, was once the
brightest star in West Africa under a benign dictator who was more
than he was African in many ways. Suddenly, it was just another failed
African State and everyone, Mbeki in the lead, rushed in to try and
things up. Not easy once the situation reaches the state that the
in after all these years of corruption, maladministration and
The parallels with Zimbabwe are many. We are a small central African
that has lived under a dictatorship for 25 years. For most of that time
were regarded as the star in the region - an example to others of
reconciliation, moderate economic policies and reasonable, if slightly
corrupt administration. Mugabe, for all his UK phobia, is a real
Anglophile - Seville Row suits and shirts and ties made in England.
Then suddenly all hell breaks loose. Our government goes crazy and
the heart of the economy - our commercial agricultural system, goes on
savage other industries like mining and industry and oversees the
of much of what they had built up in the first 20 years of
skilled and experienced have fled and more than half the adult
now lives (subsists) outside the country.
Our GDP has crashed to 60 per cent of what it was in 1997; exports are
by two thirds and employment by over 40 per cent. Living standards have
collapsed, savings been destroyed and life expectancy has fallen from
years in 1990, to 35 years today - the most dramatic decline in such
measurements in any country in the world.
We are now a country with all the symptoms of a failed State - infant
mortality is at record levels, maternal mortality is over 15 per cent,
1000 people die every day - four times the norm in this country and
unbelievably, our national population has fallen from an anticipated
of 16 million by 2004, to under 11 million and is still declining.
statistics on a par with the great famine in Ireland, the collapse in
Somalia and the genocide in Rwanda and Cambodia.
But, we are not killing each other with guns and panga's and the world
little or no attention. Mbeki flies over our heads to deal with a
that is 4000 kilometers away in Francophone Africa where he has little
interests. He steadfastly ignores what is happening on his borders and
his own backyard. And because he does so, the rest of the world say's
bother" and his African colleagues in the AU and the SADC take their
from his stance and likewise do nothing.
Two and a half million Zimbabweans have fled to South Africa where they
treated as ordinary economic illegal immigrants and no special
given. They slip into the overcrowded slums of Johannesburg and Cape
where they turn to crime to earn enough to send home to keep their
alive. They will kill for a cell phone. They deny South Africans
thousands of low-income jobs in the service sector where they can hide
they get the required papers to claim South African citizenship.
Last week I watched a conference in South Africa attended by South
Ministers including Essop Pahad from the Presidents office. The subject
"free and fair elections in Palestine". "The world and Israel, have an
obligation, to see to it that Palestine has a credible election for new
leadership after the death of Arafat." Pahad saw no discrepancy between
oft-expressed view that the question of the future of Zimbabwe was an
to be decided by Zimbabweans without the benefit of intervention by its
neighbour, South Africa. Why the distinction? South Africa, like Israel,
real power over the leadership in Zimbabwe. Free and fair elections are
impossible dream if South Africa does nothing and the consequences of
neglect are just as unthinkable.
We are being backed into a corner from which we may well have to fight
way out. Is that what it will take to get the attention we deserve from
those who have power and influence and therefore have responsibility?
28 000 American troops failed to restore order and sanity in Somalia
were withdrawn when they lost men in combat conditions. Millions of
have died and been forced into exile after that failed intervention.
still does not have a government and guns rule the streets. Sudan
whole world after decades of civil war and millions of deaths - most of
unseen and unsung. Liberia, the Ivory Coast, the Congo and a dozen
African nightmares - are virtually beyond help unless someone is
go in and knock heads and lose lives.
Zimbabwe on the other hand still has what it takes to turn around and
back on the path of stability and growth. It still has a democratic
opposition, which is capable to taking over and running the country. It
still has a civil service, teachers in classrooms and nurses in
wards. It still has speed traps on the main roads. It still has a
functioning infrastructure - water in taps, electricity in switches. It
be turned around, quickly and painlessly and without further bloodshed.
we cannot do it alone - any more than the Ivory Coast or Palestine.
This is not a situation which warrants either the attention or the
intervention of the western powers. This is an African crisis that can
solved very quickly by African leaders acting in concert. There is
on the way forward - we need a democratic electoral process and it has
put in place soon if it is to work. No rocket science needed here, no
with blue hats and guns in their hands or white UN armored vehicles.
bit of old fashioned hardball diplomacy conducted by men and women with
But it looks to me as if it is not going to happen and this represents
tragically lost opportunity for African leadership. Are African leaders
really as hopeless a bunch as they seem? If so, God help us all. In
for those of us who reject violence in any form as a means of effecting
change, it is perhaps only to God that we can look in these
On Saturday our Men's Fellowship at Church discussed this and we agreed
we should approach this new crisis point in our lives with three things
1. Give the Zanu PF regime over to God, as we do not
the power or the means to deal with the crisis at a political or
2. Recognise in our own lives, the life of our
Church and community, that ultimately God is supreme and He can not
guide and provide, but in the end He will prevail; and
3. We need to share this perspective with others who
in the same predicament as ourselves and help each other to do what we
to ameliorate the situation until real change comes - as it must in the
Bulawayo, 12th December 2004