What to do about Mugabe


What to do about MugabeTowering rage is the only legitimate reaction to the latest outrage in the benighted, despoiled, corrupted, starving, bankrupt nation known as Zimbabwe. The cold blooded killing of an opposition activist, in Highfields, a high density suburb in Harare, and the shooting of mourners at his wake was merely the latest excess of an evil dictatorship.

A similar tale is told by the arrest and bashing to the point of death of opposition leaders at a prayer meeting organised by the Save Zimbabwe Coalition, a group of patriots committed to old fashioned causes such as justice, democracy and the rule of law. Meanwhile, the half-witted talk about such sops as cricket boycotts, and the puffy-chested pursue democracy by landing bombs upon civilians.

Matters came to a head in Zimbabwe on Sunday. Alas, Mugabe and his Mercedes-driving apologists have more heads than hydra. Political gatherings have long since been banned by the dictatorship. Mugabe's crazed isolation has become more marked in recent weeks as doctors and teachers downed tools to protest about low pay. Inflation had passed 1,000% and rifts were reported in Zanu PF, a party consisting of lame ducks whose strength nowadays lies in the rural areas where elections are easier to fix. To retain power and live longer, Mugabe has transformed his supposedly beloved country into a peasant society ruled by a rich elite. Sales of luxury cars are booming even as the economy collapses.

Despite the dictator's control of the airwaves, newspapers, courts and food distribution, and the best efforts of the dreaded, ubiquitous and brutal secret police ( CIO), the struggle for democracy has continued unabated. Although the opposition party split into two factions over the issue of taking part in rigged senate elections, the desire to be rid of the tyrant has not wavered. Human rights lawyers, civil action groups, church leaders, and women's groups have carried on the fight. It has not been easy. Mugabe and his soldiers will stop at nothing to retain power. The snouts are deep in the trough.

Accordingly, the Save Zimbabwe Coalition decided to hold not a political meeting but a prayer meeting in Highfields. Zimbabwe is a religious country full of churches and outstanding schools. Even some Zanu PF leaders feign allegiance to christian ideals. Mugabe has managed to secure the appointment of some tame and bribeable Bishops. Nevertheless, the Catholic Church especially has joined the women and labour unions in their defiance. Indeed the opposition has much in common with Solidarity in Poland, except that it lacks a focal point and a charismatic leader.

Of course the State was not prepared at this dangerous hour to allow a meeting of any sort to take place, least of all a gathering to be attended by struggle luminaries such as the leaders of the two MDC factions, Morgan Tsvangiri, Arthur Mutambara, and the Chairperson of the NCA, Dr. Lovemore Madhuku. Therefore they broke up the meeting with bullets and beatings, killing Gift Tandari, arresting 30-40 activists, hauling them off to various police stations and torture chambers, thrashing them till they could scarcely breathe and then denying them access to doctors or lawyers.

What to do about MugabeMeanwhile a democratically elected South African government supposedly concerned about the lot of the common man continues to twiddle its thumbs. Meanwhile, food supplied by charities is used as a political tool, with sacks of rice sent to Zanu PF areas and the rest left to fend for themselves. Meanwhile the population dwindles as the desperate seek opportunities elsewhere, many taking the risk of crossing the Limpopo River that forms the border with South Africa, a stretch of water infested with crocodiles and ruthlessly guarded by soldiers. Meanwhile Mugabe's cricketing representatives stay in posh hotels in the Caribbean, paying their young players a pittance and shamelessly taking care of themselves.

Of course the West had it coming. Hardly a harsh word has heard in the mid 1980's when Mugabe's fifth brigade crushed an imagined uprising in Matabeleland, slaughtering tens of thousands of mostly Ndebeles, stuffing their corpses down disused gold mines. At around the same time the Sinhalese were murdering the Tamils in Colombo as the government turned a blind eye. No-one said much about that either.

Zimbabwe is a wonderful country blessed with a multitude of outstanding people. The same can be said of other African countries. What can be done? Mugabe has been hailed a hero and draws attention away from his infamy with anti-colonial sloganeering. Moreover he has been close with Gaddafi, whose influence on the continent President Mbeki feared above all else.

Ultimately Africa must take care of its own. What else has worked? Mbeki must stop backing a wicked regime (but he also faces losing votes at home, and leaving the ANC in the hands of populists) Everyone must pray for Mugabe's death (but his mother reached three figures). At present the best response is to help those seeking justice and to assist those promoting education, thereby sustaining hope for a better tomorrow.

Along with a few friends, I have formed a charity called the LBW Trust which gives needy and deserving youngsters a chance to pursue tertiary studies. Already we are paying college fees for thirty impoverished Zimbabweans and we plan to uplift Sudanese, Somalian and other settlers in Melbourne and elsewhere. Everyone deserves a chance. The warlords must not be allowed to cripple the young. Educate the child and the adult will take care of himself.



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Existing comments

Mugabe is a disgrace to our continent,he so egocentric,he is realy taking our continent backward,the respected leaders of AFRICA are quiet like a dead body.

khulekani ntjana | 20 March 2007  

A fantastic article, it makes its points like a series of hammer blows. Well done Peter, and well done Eureka

andy johnson | 20 March 2007  

Yes well done Peter and Eureka - the Australian media must now get behind the shaming of the Mugabe regime, as there can be no dialogue now except world condemnation + whatever sustained pressure we can bring to this terrible man.

nick ramage | 20 March 2007  

Amen to that, Peter. Well said. Will be discussed, and prayed for, at our dinner table.

Annie McNamara | 20 March 2007  

Congratulations on the article and on LBW. There's just a chance that someone in the present Australian government may read it. It could just direct their attention away from personal survival. And it was written well like the superb thoughts on the end of Bob Woolmer in The Age 21/3.

John Collins | 20 March 2007  

Mugabe's lies, deception, bald-faced bully boy tactics and destruction of his country are a tragedy unfolding on a massive scale. The country more people like you, Peter,(outside the country) who are willing to stand up and say no more.

Alan B | 20 March 2007  

How can I donate to the LBW trust? The website does not have any information on how go about doing this.

ann | 20 March 2007  

I well remember the interview with Peter in print Eureka a couple of years ago. Great to see him on these pages again, and to hear from him directly. Such a pity that it has to be in regard to the tragedy unfolding in Zimbabwe. Any chance he will write on cricket in Eureka?

Willis Peterson | 20 March 2007  

sometimes it seems like Africa, as a continent, is temrinally beset by war and tragedy. What can be done to help this continent move forward? How can we ensure that the next generation does not suffer like the present, and the previous generation?

Ross Matthews | 20 March 2007  

I cant imagine how the tragedy unfolding in Zimbabwe will be undone, unless Mugabe were to pass away.

Aurora Lowe | 20 March 2007  

Thank you for a clear and well-written article, giving facts, but without the bitterness and hatred that sometimes comes through in such accounts.
Congratulations also on your part in beginning the LBW Trust.

I'm unable to contiribute money, but if ever there were a student in Melbourne needing tutoring etc, I'd be delighted to help.

Maryrose | 20 March 2007  

Having visited Zimbabwe a number of times, my sadness at its present plight is hard to articulate. The tragedy is not confined to Mugabe but people like the present Anglican bishop who even uses his lovely cathedral as a means of supporting the tyrannous regime. One has to ask how it is possible to squander lives in Iraq, and rejoice in the toppling of Saddam Hussein, and not think Mugabe deserves a similar judgment.

Perhaps we should all write to Mbeki in South Africa. I am now an old age pensioner but there must be many who could help in the education of young Zimbabweans.

I did so with some Ethiopians years ago, and was in tears at the sacrifices they personally made, always going back to their country after education overseas. They did not take the easy option. Nor should we, otherwise we stand under the divine judgment as much even as Mugabe.

james murray | 20 March 2007  

Sometimes I tend to beleive in reincarnation when I see Mugabe. Hitler came back to life. Killing people, destroying his own country and looks at himself as a hero. Egocentricity really is blinding him

Emmanuel Sant | 20 March 2007  

Bruce Dawe has a poem about this:

Why Liberation from Dictatorship May Take Some Time
Our Great and Fearless Leader
(may His Name be forever praised!)
like a wise farmer has planted
many fields full of ears

In the particles of dust
from the sandstorms
He is also present; if we would breathe
we must do so very carefully

In those distant clouds
in the heavens above us
hidden cameras record
our every activity

Even the birds on the city rooftops
as well as those in the distant villages
cock beady eyes and fly swiftly
to inform Him of all that we say

Now foreigners come, bearing (they tell us) freedom
-- but freedom is only a word we have heard fluttering like a feather
on the lips of the dying

Bruce Dawe -- The Australian, 14-15 Jan 06

Brian McKinlay | 21 March 2007  

Congratulations on an insightful piece - I would like to know more about the LBW trust?

Paul T | 21 March 2007  

The World said about Hitler"we must never let this happen again" and here the World is,sitting on it's hands doing nothing.People like this should be brought before an International court and made face justice.

ron hodges | 21 March 2007  

The article urges me to action. Is Uniya facilitating action in this arena,please?

Mary Tinney | 21 March 2007  

Thank you, Peter Roebuck, for adding your voice and your significant profile to this needy cause. Pressure has to continue and be increased each moment. Best wishes and peace. Noela.

Noela Blackmore | 21 March 2007  

Mugabe's capacity to thumb his nose at the rest of the world speaks loads re the stance of the rest of the world to do a saddam hussein on him.

T.Ficarra | 21 March 2007  

I can only think of years ago when so many 'liberals' were in total support of Mugabe: "Oh, how terrible Ian Smith and the whites were."
It makes me wonder about ex-colonial countries, if the people were given a free vote how many would ask for a return of white rule.

David Wall | 21 March 2007  

Well Done ES and Peter!
There is nothing quite so sad (and at times sickening) as someone who lives in fear of letting go, be it a politician who can't rea the signs of the times or a sportsman who can't see the writing on the wall.
Mugabe is the sickest of all.
Surely Mugabe keeps his head above water by constantly standing on those beneath him and keeping them under.
God willing, eventually those suffering souls will be able to rise up to breathe the free air.
God willing, it won't be like the invasion of Iraq where the supposedly free Iraqi people still suffer.

Anthony Cliford | 21 March 2007  

What is UN doing ? about this issue..where is BUSH and Blair? why are they not talking about the freedom and democracy of Zimbabwe people.

Lorenz | 21 March 2007  

good on you Peter. Even cricket does not exist in a bubble.

scott probst | 21 March 2007  

An excellent article.The free world must now force the U.N to do all in their power to right this dreadful situation.

John Tobin | 21 March 2007  

Thank God and thank you for providing something positive I can do, at long last, such as the LBW Trust. My anger about Mgabe has been there since 1998 and the WCC Assembly when Bilind Freddie couls see which way this madman was moving. The suffering and dispossession is huge, One suggestion to freeze Mgabe's Foreign Bank Accounts meets with my total approval.

Bev Hincks | 21 March 2007  

if you give me an address I'll send a donation. Is the author of this article a cricket commentator? If he is, would you please thank him for his balanced,penetrating comments on the ABC and his book,IN IT TO WIN IT. THANK YOU

neville gabriel kenyon | 22 March 2007  

It was a great article but i still think the international media and the whole world must unite to get rid of this evil man

Tammy Walls | 21 October 2008  

Journalist Andrew L. Urban's newly launched website MugaBegone asks people all over the world to sign the petition to remove Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe by peaceful means or by force if necessary. www.mugabegone.com

The petition will be delivered to the Chairman of the Peace and Security Commission of the African Union.

Louise Keller | 16 January 2009  

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