Saturday 09 June 2007
By Brian Ncube
MATOBO - Mystery shrouds the fate of two activists of Zimbabwe's main
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party after they were
abducted two weeks ago by suspected state secret agents and have never been
Relatives of Edward Ndiweni and Albert Sibanda told ZimOnline that
they and three other MDC activists were kidnapped on May 25 from their
village in Matobo district in southern Zimbabwe and taken to a nearby former
white farm now occupied by government supporters.
Their captors severely assaulted and tortured them before releasing
the rest of the opposition activists except Ndiweni, 39 and Sibanda, 42.
A wife to one of the missing activists, who out of fear declined to
have her name published, said: "He was picked up from home, in Halale
village on Friday by six men who were driving a red Toyota Corolla with no
number plates and we have not seen him since then."
Wilson Dube, a local councilor for the MDC and who was also abducted,
said they were tortured and denied food for three days before he and two
others were freed.
"They took us to local farm, where they beat us with baton sticks and
forced us at gun point to run up and down a steep slope. They said they were
punishing us for trying to topple President Mugabe," said Dube, who wore a
sling bandage on his fractured right hand arm.
Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena said the police were unsure who
kidnapped the MDC activists but said the law enforcement agency was still
carrying out investigation and trying to locate the missing men.
He said, "I cannot say who is responsible (for the kidnapping). We are
still investigating the reports and trying to find the missing men."
The MDC, which poses the greatest threat to Mugabe's government in
elections next year, says government security agencies have abducted scores
of its activists and arrested others on false charges in a bid to cripple
the party ahead of the combined presidential and parliamentary polls.
The Harare government denies targeting opposition activists for arrest
and insists anyone suspected of breaking the law is liable to arrest
regardless of their political affiliation. ZimOnline.
Saturday 09 June 2007
By Regerai Marwezu
MASVINGO - Chaos marred preparations for a parliamentary by-election that
gets underway in Zaka East constituency today, with reports that the
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) had failed to dispatch personnel and
voting material on time.
The ruling ZANU PF party locks horns with two smaller opposition parties in
the poll to replace former legislator Tinos Rusere who died to months ago.
The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change party opted out of the
by-election because the winner of poll would have to step down in a few
months time when the country elects a new Parliament.
Election officials in Zaka East admitted they were facing logistical
problems with most polling stations in the constituency saying they had not
received voting material by midday on Friday raising strong fears some
voters could fail to cats their ballots.
For example at Panganai polling station ballot papers and other voting
material including personnel had not been delivered bay late afternoon after
a vehicle that was ferrying the materials broke down.
At another polling station at Museki school, a few kilometers from the Zaka-
Bikita main highway no voting material had arrived by midday with ZEC
officials saying they would work during the night to ensure that all the
polling stations would be ready by today morning.
Constituency registrar Nyashadzaishe Zindove told reporters that the delays
in distributing voting material were because of a shortage of vehicles and
"We are going to work through out the night to make sure that all polling
stations are ready for the Polls tomorrow," said Zindove "The problem is
that we had failed to secure enough vehicles and fuel on time but I am sure
were are going to beat the deadline."
ZANU PF is represented in the poll by former army brigadier Livingstone
Chineka. Nicholas Zanga is representing the United People's Party and Lameck
Batsirai is standing for the Zimbabwe People's Democratic Party.
The by-election will have no impact on the balance of power in Parliament
with ZANU PF retaining its absolute control of both chambers of the House
regardless of who wins in Zaka East. -- ZimOnline
Fri Jun 8, 4:47 PM ET
BERLIN (AFP) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday accused the regime
of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe of "unspeakable acts" but said
December's EU-African Union summit would go ahead even if he attended.
"It cannot be the case that we do not work with a continent just because one
country commits unspeakable acts. So everybody will be invited," said Merkel
at the final press conference of the G8 summit in Heiligendamm in Germany.
She urged other nations in southern Africa to use their influence to try to
stem the political crisis in Zimbabwe.
"Mugabe's policies are not acceptable. I therefore call on countries close
to Zimbabwe to use their influence to help people, also in Zimbabwe," she
Germany holds the rotating EU presidency until the end of June. It will then
be taken over by Portugal, who will host the summit in Lisbon.
The EU imposed a travel ban on Mugabe and more than 100 people closely
linked to his regime after the Zimbabwean leader won elections in 2002 that
international observers said were rigged.
Leading African politicians have denounced any suggested that Mugabe be
barred from what would be the first Europe-Africa summit in seven years.
Ghanaian Foreign Minister Nana Akufo-Addo, whose country heads the African
Union, and his South African counterpart Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma both came
out against the idea in statements last month.
Mugabe is widely blamed for Zimabwe's political and economic meltdown,
marked by world-record inflation, 80 percent unemployment,
By Patience Rusere
08 June 2007
Two leading figures in the Bulawayo-based activist group Women of Zimbabwe
Arise remained in police custody late Friday despite a call from the U.S.
State Department for their release, though five others arrested in protests
this week were freed.
WOZA lawyer Kossam Ncube said Jenni Williams, the group's national
coordinator, and Magodonga Mahlangu, were scheduled to appear in court
Saturday on charges that they organized an illegal demonstration and created
a public nuisance.
Williams was honored earlier this year as the recipient of U.S. Secretary of
State Condoleezza Rice's 2007 International Women of Courage Award for
WOZA members released today said they had been beaten by police. But Ncube
said Williams and Mahlangu were not hurt. Williams and Mahlangu surrendered
themselves to police Wednesday after five members were picked up during a
demonstration demanding the group be allowed a voice in South African led
Ncube told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that his
clients intend to sue the Zimbabwe Republic Police for assault.
In Washington Thursday, a spokesman for the US state department, referring
to the detention of the WOZA activists, condemned what he termed the
Zimbabwean government's "violent suppression of a peaceful demonstration."
Sean McCormack said that in light of reported police threats against
Williams, Washington was concerned and held Harare accountable for her
He said the "latest aggression against civil society.highlights the need for
dialogue among all stakeholders" to halt Zimbabwe's national crisis.
McCormack called on Harare to release those detained and in general to
respect the rule of law.
By Blessing Zulu & Chris Gande
08 June 2007
Southern African parliamentarians have joined Deputy Foreign Affairs
Minister Aziz Pahad of South Africa in voicing concern about the slow pace
of Zimbabwean crisis resolution talks being mediated by South African
President Thabo Mbeki.
Pahad on Thursday referred to the "the lack of urgency by the Zimbabweans,"
saying that with elections scheduled in Zimbabwe in early 2008, time is
running out, and that with the economy sliding and tensions mounting
decisive action is needed.
The ruling ZANU-PF's representatives in the talks, Justice Minister Patrick
Chinamasa and Labor Minister Nicholas Goche, failed to show up for talks
last week and Friday again asked that a meeting be rescheduled as Goche
needed to be in Geneva.
On Thursday in Geneva, Goche declined to appear before the standards
committee of the International Labor Organization to respond to alleged
labor rights violations.
Ruling party officials Monday submitted a position paper two months overdue.
Both factions of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change welcomed
Pahad's statement. Secretary General Tendai Biti of the MDC faction led by
Morgan Tsvangirai said Pahad's comment was aimed at ZANU-PF, which he
accused of stalling.
Secretary General Welshman Ncube of the faction led by Arthur Mutambara told
VOA reporter Blessing Zulu that the continued delays greatly concern the
VOA was unable to obtain comment from Justice Minister Chinimasa despite
repeated calls to his mobile number, and Labor Minister Goche was
unreachable in Geneva.
Researcher Chris Maroleng of the Institute for Security Studies in South
Africa said both sides in the talks must be fully committed for them to
Parliamentarians of the Southern African Development Community meeting in
the Namibian capital of Windhoek on Friday expressed concern at the slow
pace of the Zimbabwe mediation process. Zimbabwe was not on the agenda for
the 10-day conference, but a number of parliamentarians urged that it be
National Chairman Lovemore Moyo of the Tsvangirai MDC faction, the only
opposition member of Zimbabwe's parliament in Windhoek, said the conference
resolved to give its fullest support to Mbeki, whom SADC nominated as
He told reporter Chris Gande of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that Zimbabwean
House Speaker and ZANU-PF Chairman John Nkomo, heading the Harare
delegation, agreed that Zimbabwe's political and economic crisis needed an
By Carole Gombakomba
08 June 2007
Some 20 officials and activists of the Movement for Democratic Change
faction led by Morgan Tsvangirai remained in police custody Friday as the
Harare high court again declined to take up their urgent application asking
for release on bail.
As she did earlier this week, High Court Judge Felistas Chatukuta said the
matter should be resolved by the magistrate's court.
A Harare magistrate yesterday dismissed charges against 13 MDC supporters
held for weeks on charges they planned an carried out firebomb attacks
against police posts and other targets, including a passenger train. The
opposition has denied any such activity, accusing authorities of trumping up
the charges to justify a crackdown.
Despite the magistrate's ruling, police kept seven of the 13 men in remand
on charges that they gave military training to MDC activists in South
Africa. Among those still detained is Paul Madzore, member of parliament for
Glen View, Harare.
Lawyer Andrew Makoni, representing the activists, told reporter Carole
Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that while he was disappointed
with the high court ruling he is confident the state lacks sufficient
evidence to convict the accused.
By Carole Gombakomba
08 June 2007
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Chairman George Chiweshe said Friday that he
is satisfied with preparations for a by-election to take place Saturday in
Masvingo's Zaka East constituency, despite reservations about procedures
expressed in a paper from the Zimbabwe Election Support Network and a
boycott by the main opposition.
ZESN said the constituency lacked a properly constituted electoral court.
Both factions of the opposition complained a level playing field was not
established in Zaka East.
Chiweshe said the law requires a by-election to be held within a specified
time after a seat is vacated. Incumbent Tinos Rusere of the ruling ZANU-PF
party died in March.
Both factions of the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change are
boycotting the Zaka East ballot, but ZANU-PF and two smaller opposition
parties have fielded candidates. The ZANU-PF candidate is retired soldier
Livingstone Chineka; the United People's Party has fielded Nicholas Shanga,
and Rameck Batirai of the Zimbabwe People's Democratic Party is also in the
running for the Zaka East seat.
Chiweshe tells reporter Carole Gombakomba that despite objections by ZESN
and the opposition, conditions in the constituency are in line with legal
Saturday 9th june 2007
Dear Family and Friends,
This week all semblances of normalcy collapsed in most parts of Zimbabwe.
The supply of electricity was negligible for most of the week and we found
ourselves behaving in the most absurd fashion in order to remain functional.
Going to bed at 7 in the evening in the cold and the dark - and 'waking up'
when the lights came on at 11pm.Mostly your body doesn't know which way is
up as it struggles to understand your new absurd routine. Doing the ironing
at 11 pm; downloading emails and working on the computer at midnight.
Getting up again at 4am to cook porridge for breakfast and being thankful
for that achievement as the electricity goes off again at 5am and another
day of insanity starts.
The eerie silence characterising suburban life was not much better in
shopping and business centres - machines not working, lifts not moving,
supermarket meat fridges defrosting, butchery saws silent, bakery ovens
cold, food going bad and people just sitting out on walls and pavements.
The absurditities of the situation kept slapping you in the face all week.
One evening, in the cold and dark, Short Wave Radio Africa interviewed a top
official in ZESA ( Electricity Supply Authority). Bear in mind this Radio
Station is banned from operating in Zimbabwe and it's staff members are
prohibited from returning to the country - and yet the ZESA executive speaks
openly on the forbidden radio station! She had a great swathe of excuses in
order to apportion blame for this diabolical situation and then uses the
opportunity to announce a 50% increase in the price of electricity. Oh
really, what electricity is that!
On Tuesday it was World Environment Day and again Zimbabwe was in the quiet
and the dark - at least we were doing our bit for the world - however
unintentionally! That absurd irony was then punctuated all day by the sound
of tree chopping and the sight of people pouring out of the bush carrying
sticks, branches and cart loads of newly cut indigenous timber. 60 year old
trees felled in minutes - what tragedy for Zimbabwe and what a disgrace for
the country whose Minister of Tourism heads the UN body on Sustainable
Development. What disgrace too for the world who chose him for the job.
The near complete collapse of Zimbabwe's electricity supply is affecting
country areas too. In a rural area near me people are walking up to six
kilometres to reach the nearest grinding mill. They arrive to find the mill
not able to function without electricity and there is no option but to leave
your precious bag of maize and return the next day to collect it - hoping
that most of it is still there. The millers are having to work at night or
whenever the power comes back on - its all about survival.
Perhaps the greatest irony of the power cuts is that at least now we
physically don't have the means to listen to or watch the propaganda on ZBC
radio and TV - a blessed relief, particularly as the bigwigs have begun
positioning themselves for the next round of elections - just eight months
away. Until next week, thanks for reading and please take note of my new
website address: www.cathybuckle.com
Friday 8th June 2007
How in heavens name do people survive in the economic madhouse that Zimbabwe
On Friday last week I watched in astonishment as the parallel rate for the
Zim dollar against the British pound went from 100.000 in the morning to
105.000 at lunchtime and by evening was 110.00. It was like Black Friday all
over again; the day when Robert Mugabe, virtually barricaded into Zanu PF
headquarters house by war veterans was forced to give each one of the fifty
thousand former fighters an unbudgeted $150.000 - or was it 50.000. Noughts
have no meaning any more since Gideon Gono knocked three of them off!
Analysts say that's when the economic mayhem began and with it came the
inexorable leaking of the best-qualified and most productive members of
society. We forget that this steady decline in the economy and the
increasing brain drain has been going on for almost ten years. What began as
a trickle became a flood as an estimated four million Zimbabweans, those
lucky enough to afford an airfare, a passport and visa fled the country.
Roughly a million of them came to the UK. But the soon-to-be-ex British
Prime Minister still says that Zimbabwe is not in his remit! It's out of his
reach, he says; Africa's problems must be solved by Africans and Thabo Mbeki
is the right man for the job. He fully supported Mbeki's efforts he said.
Any hope that Blair might actually intervene even ever so softly on behalf
of the suffering people of Zimbabwe was drowned in meaningless, diplomatic
Blair's justification for invading Iraq, remember, was that he believed it
was morally correct. In essence what he said was: 'You may not have agreed
with me but I believed it was the right thing to do to rid the world of an
evil dictator.' But Zimbabwe is not in his remit so he can take no part in
ridding the world of this particular evil dictator. Blair's moral
imperatives simply fade into oblivion where Zimbabwe is concerned but for me
anyway, the situation in Zimbabwe is above all a moral issue in exactly the
same way as apartheid South Africa or Smith's Rhodesia when it was whites
oppressing blacks. Blair knows this but chooses to do nothing. He
acknowledges that what is happening in Zimbabwe is wrong but he washes his
hands of the problem.
Meanwhile the suffering continues. The poverty datum line in Zimbabwe is now
estimated at over two million a month; prices for basic goods go up as much
as three times in a day and on top of that there are transport costs,
utility services, rates, rents and school fees. How do ordinary people
manage? Whenever friends call me from Zim, my first question is ' Have you
got enough to eat' and the answer always seems to be that they are managing,
some how in some way they are managing. It is getting increasingly desperate
but by barter and deals and with family help they are getting enough to keep
them alive. God forbid that any of them get sick and need medical attention
or have a baby born in hospital or, in the final act of despair turn up
their toes and die and have to be buried - any of those processes will
involve the family in millions, literally millions of dollars.
The Zanu PF government's inept and, some would say, deliberate mismanagement
of the economy has reduced these basic human processes to near
impossibilities for the majority of the Zimbabwean population. No one is
exempt but some in Zimbabwe are better equipped to cope than others. If you
have the right political affiliation then you will be able to take advantage
of the Zanu PF connection which will ensure you get food relief or jobs or
preferential treatment at every step of the way - as long as they can be
sure of your vote.
If, on the other hand, you happen to support the opposition and/or belong to
the Roman Catholic faith then watch out for you are in real trouble. Mugabe
has declared his version of a fatwa on those people and attendance at Mass
in the rural areas has become an ordeal of terror as the Green Bombers wait
at the church door to beat the hell - or heaven - out of Catholic
church-goers whom they deem to be Mugabe's enemies. In their twisted Zanu PF
thinking, continued allegiance to their faith must imply that Catholics have
become Mugabe's enemies- and all because the Catholic bishops had the
courage to condemn Mugabe's oppression of his own people. Friends tell me
that when all this is reported to the police the response is ' You must
write a letter of apology to the Zanu PF District Chairman' Apologise for
what, I ask, apologise for standing by your principles, for doing the right
By the time Blair got back to London from his 'Farewell' tour there had been
other developments and all relevant to the Zimbabwean president. Charles
Taylor's trial had opened in the Hague with Taylor pleading not guilty and
claiming that he had immunity because at the time the crimes were committed
he was head of state. (Britain, by the way, has said that if Taylor is found
guilty they will be prepared to imprison him in the UK.) The Red Cross had
declared that Zimbabwe was in a virtual war situation and as such merited
Red Cross assistance and Edinburgh University had finally decided to strip
Mugabe of his honorary doctorate, two other American universities are likely
to follow suit. Reporting on this The Guardian newspaper here quoted Tony
Blair saying in the House of Commons that he 'entirely endorsed' the move.
He added that the UK would bar Mr Mugabe and his ministers from entering the
UK ' until democracy had been restored in Zimbabwe'. Zimbabweans should
remember those words.
To quote Mugabe's spokesman, George Charamba, I doubt Mugabe will 'lose
sleep' over it. After all, he's still there and Blair is about to be
gone.that must be giving the old man cause for a good chortle! He has little
else to laugh about.
Ndini shamwari yenyu. PH
NURSES at the Roman Catholic run Mater Dei Hospital in Bulawayo have downed
tools in protest over low wages-plunging the health sector into a crises.
The nurses at the Roman Catholic Run Mater Dei Hospital in Bulawayo downed
tools this morning demanding that their salaries be upped to about $3.5
million a month from $600 000.
Sister Maureen Jameson, the Mater Dei Hospital Administrator confirmed this
morning nurses at the institution had gone on strike.
"The Hospital is looking at the grievances and we hope by this afternoon
they would have resumed duties," Jameson said.
But the nurses speaking on condition of anonymity indicated that they would
not resume duties if their demands are not met.
Zimbabwe's health sector has been one of the victims of the country's
unprecedented economic decline where inflation continues to break new ground
and recently touched 3700%.
Health experts blame a serious shortage of foreign currency for the lack of
resources and medicines that has plagued the health sector over years
created by gross under-funding and mismanagement of the economy.
At the same time, medical practitioners have on numerous occasions' downed
stethoscopes in protest over bad working conditions and poor salaries while
some have left the country for greener pastures- CAJ News.
By Jonga Kandemiiri
08 June 2007
The International Labor Organization's standards committee has effectively
chastised the government of Zimbabwe in connection with alleged violations
of the rights of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions to which Harare
declined to respond.
ILO sources said the standards committee adopted a so-called "special
paragraph" to highlight its concern. Special paragraphs, contained in the
introduction to the panel's report, are adopted when the committee has
examined allegations of violations of freedom of association and when a
government has delayed making a response.
ILO and other sources said a Zimbabwean government delegation led by Labor
Minister Nicholas Goche declined to appear before the standards committee on
grounds that it did not believe it would receive a fair hearing.
A special paragraph, according to the ILO, "contains an urgent appeal to the
governments concerned and, as soon as possible afterwards, special
communications are sent to these governments by the Director-General on
behalf of the committee."
Studio 7 was unable to obtain comment from Labor Minister Goche or any other
Labor Ministry official empowered to speak in the matter. Goche incurred the
displeasure of South African officials for failing to attend crisis
resolution talks set for Friday - on grounds that he had urgent business
before the ILO in Geneva.
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions Secretary General Wellington Chibebe told
reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that he does not
believe the verdict will change his union's adversarial relationship with
Jimmy Carter still has a lot to answer for.
by James Kirchick
06/18/2007, Volume 012, Issue 38
In April 1979, 64 percent of the black citizens of Rhodesia (now
Zimbabwe) lined up at the polls to vote in the first democratic election in
the history of that southern African nation. Two-thirds of them supported
Abel Muzorewa, a bishop in the United Methodist Church. He was the first
black prime minister of a country only 4 percent white. Muzorewa's victory
put an end to the 14-year political odyssey of outgoing prime minister Ian
Smith, the stubborn World War II veteran who had infamously announced in
1976, "I do not believe in black majority rule--not in a thousand years."
Fortunately for the country's blacks, majority rule came sooner than Smith
had in mind.
Less than a year after Muzorewa's victory, however, in February 1980,
another election was held in Zimbabwe. This time, Robert Mugabe, the Marxist
who had fought a seven-year guerrilla war against Rhodesia's white-led
government, won 64 percent of the vote, after a campaign marked by
widespread intimidation, outright violence, and Mugabe's threat to continue
the civil war if he lost. Mugabe became prime minister and was toasted by
the international community and media as a new sort of African leader. "I
find that I am fascinated by his intelligence, by his dedication. The only
thing that frustrates me about Robert Mugabe is that he is so damned
incorruptible," Andrew Young, Jimmy Carter's ambassador to the United
Nations, had gushed to the Times of London in 1978. The rest, as they say,
That second election is
widely known and cited: 1980 is the famous year Zimbabwe won its
independence from Great Britain and power was transferred from an obstinate
white ruler to a liberation hero. But the circumstances of the first
election, and the story of the man who won it, have been lost to the past.
As the Mugabe regime--responsible for the torture and murder of thousands,
starvation, genocide, the world's highest inflation and lowest life
expectancy--teeters on the brink of disaster after 27 years of authoritarian
rule, it is instructive to go back and examine what happened in those
crucial intervening months.
To understand the genesis of that oft-forgotten 1979 election, it is
necessary to revisit Rhodesia's Unilateral Declaration of Independence in
1965, when the British colony joined the United States as the only territory
in history to separate successfully from the British Empire without its
consent. Five years earlier, in a speech to the South African parliament,
British prime minister Harold Macmillan had warned that the "wind of change"
was blowing through Africa. "Whether we like it or not," Macmillan said,
"this growth of national consciousness is a political fact." Rhodesian
whites would not stand for the British policy of "No Independence Before
Majority African Rule," however, and in 1964 they overwhelmingly elected
Smith premier. When the Rhodesian government reached an impasse with the
British over conditions for autonomy, Smith, widely supported by the
country's whites, declared Rhodesia independent. And so, on November 11,
1965, the sun abruptly set on another outpost of the British Empire.
The move was immediately condemned as illegal ("an act of treason") by the
British government, the Commonwealth, and the United Nations. Independent
Rhodesia was not recognized by any country; even apartheid South Africa sent
no ambassador to Salisbury, the capital. Britain and the U.N. imposed
economic sanctions, and many Rhodesians worried that an oil embargo would
cripple their landlocked country.
Over the next decade there followed a series of failed negotiations between
the two sides. The British demanded majority rule, but would consider at
most a phased plan that would gradually bring a black government to power.
Smith, whose Rhodesian Front party was consistently reelected, would have
none of it. He spoke of Rhodesia's defense of "Western, Christian
civilization" and out-maneuvered a succession of British prime ministers,
who all had to contend with the embarrassing "Rhodesia problem." Somehow,
this tenacious little former colony held out against the world's once-great
British Empire, busting sanctions, increasing white immigration, and keeping
domestic black political opposition at bay with a succession of
authoritarian laws that effectively banned political dissent.
Smith's obstinacy played a role in emboldening--and radicalizing--his
enemies. The refusal of the country's whites to accept black rule created
the vacuum in which leaders like Robert Mugabe, of the Chinese-backed
Zimbabwean African National Union (ZANU), and Joshua Nkomo, of the
Soviet-supported Zimbabwean African People's Union (ZAPU), emerged. In 1972,
these two organizations started a civil war, aiming to overthrow the white
regime by force. ZANU and ZAPU viewed Smith as a mortal enemy, but they were
hardly more pleasant to each other, in spite of forming an official
alliance, the Patriotic Front, in 1976. With rival superpower backers and
different staging grounds (ZANU in Mozambique, ZAPU in Zambia), the two
groups spent about as much effort fighting for control of the revolutionary
movement as they did against the white regime. Both the white government and
the guerrillas demonstrated remarkable ruthlessness, and the seven-year Bush
war would claim some 20,000 lives in a country of 7 million.
Moderates to the rescue
By 1977, it was clear that change was coming. Aided tremendously by the
shuttle diplomacy of Henry Kissinger during the Nixon and Ford
administrations (Kissinger enticed the apartheid government of South Africa
with promises of greater international legitimacy if it would give the boot
to the friendly white regime on its northern border), Smith finally came to
accept the principle of majority rule, though with major conditions. He
insisted that whites maintain control of key government institutions like
the army, civil service, and judiciary. He also required that whites have a
disproportionate number of seats in parliament so as to prevent any radical
constitutional changes. And Smith ruled out serious land reform.
Despite these vestiges of the old regime, Smith's acceptance of majority
rule was momentous: It opened the way for a peaceful transition. For years,
Smith had tried to negotiate a settlement with several black nationalist
leaders who had renounced violence in their campaigns for nonracial
democracy. Primary among them was Muzorewa, a small, American-educated
pastor who avoided the internecine fighting that had characterized
Zimbabwean resistance politics throughout the 1960s. He was a forthright
critic of the government's racial discrimination and had supported civil
disobedience and mass protest in the past. The United Nations had honored
him for Outstanding Achievement in Human Rights. "If religion just means to
go to church and pray, then it is a scandal. The gospel is concerned about
where a man sleeps, what a man earns, how he is treated by the government,"
he told congregants. The other black leaders with whom Smith pledged to work
were the Rev. Ndabaningi Sithole, a Methodist founder of ZANU who had been
imprisoned for 10 years for opposition activities--including an alleged
assassination attempt against Smith--but who had forsworn violence, and
Chief Jeremiah Chirau, a tribal elder who had long been amenable to white
interests. Smith and his moderate black allies hoped that if a multiracial
government could be cobbled together, black African states would withdraw
their support for the guerrillas and make way for an anti-Communist black
Muzorewa and Sithole, contrary to the patronizing and ugly attacks that
would soon come from the Carter administration and the Western left, were
not stooges (although Chirau, it should be noted, was funded by the
Rhodesian government and depended on it for his status as a recognized
tribal leader). Sithole had actually led the guerrilla fight against the
white regime until the power-hungry Mugabe deposed him. Muzorewa's speeches
regularly drew crowds of hundreds of thousands, and he was widely considered
the most popular black political leader in the country. He solidified his
antigovernment bona fides when the Smith regime branded him a Soviet lackey
(as it did all its opponents) even though he was staunchly anti-Communist.
These moderate black leaders were motivated, first and foremost, by a desire
to end the bloodshed. By contrast, Mugabe and Nkomo made it clear that their
Patriotic Front would not give up the fight and participate in elections
unless they were assured of victory. In so doing, the guerrilla leaders
removed any doubt that they had no interest in democracy.
African politics, Carter-style
Into this picture stepped Andrew Young. Early in his tenure at the United
Nations, Young, a former mayor of Atlanta, displayed a naive, if not
baleful, outlook on southern African affairs, remarking that Cuban troops
brought a "certain order and stability" to wartorn Angola. Young had earlier
called Smith a "monster" and likened him to Uganda's mass-murdering Idi
Amin. Nevertheless, Carter made Young his point man on Africa. According to
Martin Meredith, a former southern Africa correspondent for the Sunday Times
of London, "Young was not, perhaps, the best choice the Americans could have
made" for negotiations in Rhodesia. "He had a reputation for being
recklessly outspoken on subjects about which he appeared to know little, and
Rhodesia was no exception." Time said some State Department careerists
thought of Young as an "unguided missile."
In September 1977, the Carter administration announced its "Anglo-American
plan," drawn up in conjunction with the Labour government of Prime Minister
James Callaghan. The plan called for British administration of Rhodesia
backed up by a U.N. peacekeeping force, a constitution ensuring universal
adult suffrage, and majority rule by 1978. Majority rule was to be tempered,
however, by the reservation of 20 out of 100 parliamentary seats for whites.
The proposal also called for the incorporation of ZANU and ZAPU guerrilla
units into the new country's army and, more important, the participation of
the two nationalist movements in the country's elections. Smith, along with
the moderate black leaders, opposed this plan because it would have led to a
military dominated by Mugabe and Nkomo's forces.
Instead, Smith came up with what he and his popularly supported black allies
termed the "internal settlement." In March 1978, they formed an executive
council that would serve as a transitional government until democratic
elections were held the following year. This internal settlement called for
the promulgation of a new constitution establishing majority rule, but
maintaining 28 out of 100 seats in the new parliament for whites. This was
not a perfect proposal, but Muzorewa--no doubt expressing the desires of the
country's justly impatient black majority--declared that it created "the
machinery for dismantling the structure and practices of colonialism and
racism and of minority rule." Muzorewa, Sithole, and Chirau understood the
economic necessity of keeping the white population engaged in Zimbabwe's
future, and hoped that an agreement acceptable to both black and white would
discredit the guerrilla groups and help put an end to the Bush war.
Eighty-five percent of the country's whites supported the agreement in a
January 1979 referendum: The illusion of perpetual white rule was dead.
Elections were scheduled for April 1979. Both Mugabe and Nkomo--in spite of
their commitment to violence and opposition to democracy--were offered seats
on the Executive Council along with the other black leaders but, fearing
this would hurt their chances of ever gaining absolute control over the
country, they refused.
It was not altogether unreasonable to protect the interests of the white
minority, as the functioning of the Zimbabwean economy depended on the
skills of educated whites who, by the late 1970s, were fleeing the country
at the rate of 1,000 per month. To understand what sort of fate might befall
a Rhodesia conquered by Marxist rebels, one had only to look to the former
Portuguese colonies of Mozambique and Angola, which, when overthrown in 1975
after the fall of the Caetano regime a year before, witnessed the immediate
mass emigration of Portuguese citizens (about a quarter of a million from
each country) and the collapse of those nations' economies. In light of
these disastrous post-colonial developments, the desire to keep as many
skilled whites as possible within Rhodesia after the transition to a black
government was not just the selfish concern of the whites themselves; the
presidents of African states that depended on Rhodesia for trade understood
that white interests would have to be protected for an extended period of
time. This was not an unusual consideration; Kenya, Tanzania, and Zambia,
former British colonies all, reserved extra parliamentary seats for whites
for a transitional period. Alas, it did not stop the three countries from
turning into dictatorships.
The 1979 election
The Carter administration, the Labour government in Britain, and the
international left all insisted that Mugabe and Nkomo be part of the
negotiating process--on its face a concession to terrorism. Presaging the
edicts of Al Qaeda in Iraq, both guerrilla leaders pledged violence against
any black Zimbabwean who dared take part in the April balloting. Nkomo
called for a "bloodbath." A year earlier he had ridiculed the "all party
nonsense" advocated by the moderate black leaders and said, "We mean to get
that country by force, and we shall get it." Mugabe, not to be outdone,
issued a public death list of 50 individuals associated with the internal
settlement, including the three black leaders of the executive council. ZANU
described these individuals as "Zimbabwean black bourgeoisie, traitors,
fellow-travelers, and puppets of the Ian Smith regime, opportunistic
running-dogs and other capitalist vultures." Mugabe also expressed his
belief that "the multiparty system is a luxury" and said that if Zimbabwean
blacks did not like Marxism, "then we will have to reeducate them." This was
the same Mugabe whom Young, in that 1978 interview with the Times of London,
had called "a very gentle man," adding, "I can't imagine Joshua Nkomo, or
Robert Mugabe, ever pulling the trigger on a gun to kill anyone. I doubt
that they ever have."
Nevertheless, in April 1979, in a scene reminiscent of the recent Iraqi
elections, nearly 3 million blacks came out to vote under a state of martial
law and with armed guerrillas actively seeking to disrupt the balloting.
Although 100,000 soldiers protected the polling places, 10 civilians were
killed by Mugabe and Nkomo's forces. Even so, the election was a resounding
success and produced a clear verdict. An overwhelming majority of voters
chose Muzorewa to become the first black prime minister of Zimbabwe
Rhodesia, as the country was now called.
Sadly, this democratic outcome was a chimera. Muzorewa--spurned by the West,
deemed illegitimate by the African dictatorships, and forced to contend with
Communist-armed insurgents--would hold power for a mere matter of months.
The betrayal of Muzorewa is one of the more craven episodes in American
Liberal international opinion condemned the election before it ever took
place. Andrew Young called the interim government "neofascist," and the New
York Times editorialized that the election would be a "moral and diplomatic
disaster." In March 1979, 185 individuals signed a statement calling it a
"fraud" and opined that "free elections require . . . freedom for all
political parties to campaign," presumably even parties committed to
one-party rule and violence if they do not win. Then, once the election took
place, the left discredited it as a charade. A cover story in the Nation by
British journalist David Caute, entitled "The Sham Election in Rhodesia,"
featured a cartoon with a smiling white man in safari outfit holding a gun
as sheep with black faces ("electoral livestock," in Caute's words) lined up
to vote. Caute likened the new black government to Vichy France.
The appearance of a popularly elected, black-led, anti-Marxist government in
Africa confronted Western liberals with a challenge: Would they accept this
interim agreement, widely endorsed by the country's blacks, as a step on the
path to full majority rule, or would they reject the democratic will of the
Zimbabwean people in favor of guerrilla groups that supported Soviet-style
dictatorship? Caute at least had the honesty to admit that "Mugabe, indeed,
openly espouses a one-party state and makes no secret of the fact that any
election won by ZANU would be Zimbabwe's last."
Bayard Rustin, the black civil rights leader who had been the chief
organizer of the 1963 March on Washington and the national chairman of the
Social Democrats USA, observed the April election as part of a Freedom House
delegation. A founder of the Committee to Support South African Resistance,
Rustin was outraged at the response of those on the left. "No election held
in any country at any time within memory has been more widely or
vociferously scorned by international opinion than the election conducted
last April in Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe Rhodesia," he wrote in Commentary. The
Freedom House delegation, whose members had previously monitored elections
in 26 countries, interviewed over 600 black voters and visited more than 60
polling stations throughout the country. Rustin determined the elections to
be "remarkably free and fair." Even the Nation editorial board conceded that
the elections had "undeniably mobilized a genuine outpouring of sentiment
for peace among black Rhodesians." The New York Times, like Mugabe and
Nkomo, however, did not care about the democratic means employed, only the
end result. "The real issue is not how the election was conducted, but what
it was about," the Times intoned, snidely referring to the black political
organizations participating in the elections as the "collaborating parties."
"The contrast between how the election was viewed by most Zimbabweans (the
name preferred by blacks) and how it was described by critics outside the
country is nothing less than extraordinary," Rustin wrote. With the United
States openly deferring to the wishes of ZANU, ZAPU, and their enablers
among the African tyrannies, Rustin said, "We have found ourselves, until
now, tacitly aligned with groups armed by Moscow, hostile to America,
antagonistic to democracy, and unpopular within Zimbabwe Rhodesia itself."
Rustin appropriately referred to the Patriotic Front as a "paper political
alliance" that claimed not only a base of popular support it did not have,
but also, and more ominously, a natural right to everlasting power it
certainly did not merit. Rustin was hardly the only liberal supportive of
the interim government; it should be noted that accompanying him on the
Freedom House delegation was the former U.S. ambassador to the United
Nations Human Rights Commission, Al Lowenstein (the founder of the 1968 Dump
Johnson movement), who aggressively lobbied Congress to support the nascent,
democratic Zimbabwe Rhodesia.
After the election, the Patriotic Front continued to wage war on the new
multiracial government, which proceeded to defend itself with an army and
police force that were, respectively, 85 percent and 75 percent black. But
the government also extended an olive branch to the guerrillas in hopes of
achieving a ceasefire and promised that any and all guerrillas willing to
put down their guns would have a "safe return" to civilian life without fear
of punishment. Would the guerrilla groups maintain their campaign against
Zimbabwe Rhodesia now that a black prime minister had been elected? The
government got its answer in May. Four of Prime Minister Muzorewa's envoys
to the guerrillas were seized by Mugabe's forces, displayed before 200
tribesmen, and shot as an example of what would become of those who
negotiated with the new black government. Six weeks later, 39
representatives of Rev. Sithole were also murdered.
The question remained of how the United States would relate to the new
democratically elected black government. In 1978, Congress had passed the
Case-Javits Amendment, which compelled the president to lift the sanctions
on Rhodesia (in place since a 1966 U.N. Security Council resolution) if the
regime held free and fair elections and showed a good-faith effort to
negotiate with guerrilla leaders. Undoubtedly, the April 1979 election and
the interim government's invitation to the Patriotic Front to participate
met these conditions. Appropriately, two weeks after the election, the
Senate passed a nonbinding resolution 75-19 calling on the Carter
administration to lift sanctions. Unable to challenge the validity of the
Zimbabwe Rhodesia government on the merits as stipulated by Congress, Carter
persuaded congressional allies to pass a new bill that would allow him to
maintain sanctions in order to protect America's national interests in
Africa, which he believed would be threatened if the United States
recognized a government not favored by the thugs and tyrants on the
In July, Muzorewa came to the United States determined to "remove the
blindness" of the Carter administration. He said that there were "some
people who are sick in the head in the international world" for maintaining
sanctions against a country that had transitioned peacefully from white
power to majority rule. Muzorewa was far too sanguine about his ability to
persuade Jimmy Carter and Andrew Young; their blindness was incurable. In
October, all four members of the Zimbabwe Rhodesia executive council
traveled to the United States to plead for recognition, and Carter refused
to meet with them. Disappointed by the West's rebuff, Muzorewa noted that
while Zimbabweans "are prepared to forget the past and work together with
our white brethren, . . . some people in Britain, America, Africa, and other
parts of the world appear unwilling to allow us to do so."
Of the election that had catapulted Muzorewa to power, Martin Meredith
wrote, "However much disappointment there was with a constitution which
entrenched white privilege, the opportunity to vote for a black leader who
promised peace was worth having." But as Muzorewa immediately discovered, to
the Carter administration, no government without Robert Mugabe in charge was
The shame of 1980
Ultimately, what guided the thinking of the British and the Americans was
the fear that siding with Muzorewa and other black moderates over Mugabe
would alienate black African states and thus imperil Western diplomatic
objectives in sub-Saharan Africa. Because of a narrow Cold War calculus
insistent on the notion that black Africa be prevented from turning
pro-Soviet (at least those states that were not already in the Soviet camp)
and a postcolonial guilt that awarded moral superiority to the first
generation of African leaders (many of whom were no better, and in some
cases worse, than their colonial oppressors), the pronouncements and
interests of the African states weighed far too heavily in the Carter
administration's foreign policy.
But the decision to oppose the internal settlement was faulty for two
reasons. First, if the United States and Britain had supported the pact,
there is no telling what further diplomatic pressure they might have brought
to bear on Smith to wrangle more concessions for the country's black
majority. Western support for the internal settlement would have elevated
Muzorewa's standing as a legitimate black leader and thus further deprived
the guerrilla groups of the ideological oxygen needed to sustain their war.
And with Western backing, Muzorewa would have been better equipped to
convince his African neighbors to end their support for Mugabe and Nkomo. In
1978, Chester Crocker (who would later serve as Reagan's assistant secretary
of state for African affairs) wrote in the pages of the New Republic that,
"given the weak, war-torn economies and minimal military strength of its
neighboring states, a black Zimbabwe government which issued from the
internal talks would have a good opportunity to establish itself." Sadly,
because of misguided Western policy, that black government never had a
Second, the Carter administration's preening before black African countries
was morally bankrupt. Few of the nations that made up the pro-Patriotic
Front Organization of African Unity showed much concern for democracy; it
was quite rich to see presidents Julius Nyerere of Tanzania and Kenneth
Kaunda of Zambia, both of whom had instituted one-party rule soon after
independence, giving instructions on democracy to America and Britain. The
military dictatorship of Nigeria, threatening to cut off oil to the United
States, had the audacity to term one of the rare African democracies "the
outcast puppet regime of Bishop Abel Muzorewa." The one-party, pro-Soviet
dictatorship of Mozambique (host to Mugabe) offered similar invective.
Rustin aptly wrote that "if the presidents of Zambia, Mozambique, Tanzania,
and Angola have their way, majority rule will take a form more or less
similar to what exists in their own countries; which is to say that it will
be a dictatorship by a small black elite over a destitute black population."
In response to Carter's refusal to accept the legitimacy of the April 1979
election, the Washington Post editorialized that the administration was
"ignoring fairness and impartiality in order to court those black African
states, mostly petty dictatorships or paper democracies."
And so the guerrilla war against Zimbabwe Rhodesia went on unabated. His
country laboring under continuing sanctions, Muzorewa could do little to
reassure the black population that he had the ability to bring the peace he
had promised. Demoralized by the rejection of Great Britain, the United
States, and their African neighbors, the leaders of Zimbabwe Rhodesia agreed
in late 1979 to a new set of negotiations to be held at Lancaster House in
London, in which the Patriotic Front would participate. The agreement that
emerged was essentially the same as the internal settlement, except that it
reduced the number of white parliamentary seats from 28 to 20, established a
land reform policy of "willing buyer, willing seller" funded by the British
and Americans, and, most fatefully, allowed ZANU and ZAPU to participate in
a new election, to be held in February 1980.
If the international community had rejected the 1979 election, it should
have been utterly disgusted with the one held less than a year later. Mugabe
insisted that the two wings of the Patriotic Front run separately; he knew
that with 75 percent of the country's blacks belonging to his Shona tribe,
he would be catapulted into power and could shunt Nkomo (a member of the
Ndebele tribe) to the sidelines. Lord Christopher Soames, charged by the
British with overseeing the election, found, according to Meredith, that
"the scale of intimidation in eastern Rhodesia [bordering Mozambique, which
had sheltered Mugabe's ZANU guerrillas] was massive. . . . The mere presence
of Mugabe's guerrillas in the villages was enough to deter the local
population from showing support for any party other than ZANU." ZANU
apparatchiks once again compiled "death lists," making clear to black
servants and local tribesmen that they would pay the consequences for not
In the weeks leading up to the February election, the British Combined
Operations Headquarters was informed of at least one political murder every
day. Ultimately, Soames's election observers concluded that in five of
Rhodesia's eight electoral provinces, "conditions for a free election no
longer existed." Both Muzorewa and Nkomo demanded that Mugabe not be allowed
to participate in the elections, but, fearing that any rebuke to Mugabe
would restart the guerrilla war, the British and American governments
insisted on his participation. In an early indication of what sort of ruler
he would become, Mugabe demanded that a Kalashnikov rifle be the ZANU
election symbol. At least the interim British administration rejected this
To top matters off, Mugabe announced in advance that he would abide by the
elections only if he won. According to Martin Meredith, throughout the
Lancaster House negotiations, Mugabe's "real fear, as it had been all along,
was that a negotiated settlement threatened his aim of achieving
revolutionary change in Rhodesia." Mugabe finally agreed to the British
terms only because the African leaders could no longer put up with the
consequences of the Bush war (during the conference, Smith's army bombed
crucial railways in Zambia and Mozambique) and because Nkomo went along with
the settlement, isolating ZANU. Everything in Mugabe's history indicates
that if he had lost the 1980 election, he would have reverted to war. For
Rhodesia's beleaguered blacks--who had suffered more than anyone else not
only from the oppressive counterinsurgency operations of the white minority
government but also from the unforgiving tactics of the guerrillas--the
threat of a worsening, protracted civil war all but assured victory for
The election result was announced on March 4, 1980.Mugabe took 64 percent of
the vote, with over 90 percent of eligible blacks voting. No doubt the
higher participation in 1980 had to do with the fact that, in contrast with
1979, guerrillas did not violently suppress turnout. Nevertheless, British
election commissioner Sir John Boynton reported that death threats, the
murder of candidates and their supporters, property destruction, violent
intimidation, and, most portentously, the threat of continued war all
occurred with disturbing frequency in the two-month campaign. Mugabe's
forces were responsible for 70 percent of ceasefire violations.
And lest anyone doubt that Mugabe was the favorite of the front-line states
that had aided him in his war against Muzorewa, he left the country during
the balloting for meetings with the leaders of Mozambique and Tanzania, a
presumptuous act for a would-be president. In the midst of the election,
Mugabe announced he would "seek the aid of our friends in Africa if needs
be." Freedom House found that "the open or implicit threat by the formerly
externally based parties [ZANU and ZAPU] that they would renew the
insurgency should they not win represented an important indirect form of
intimidation" and that "threats by black and white African states of
nonrecognition or intervention in the event of particular electoral outcomes
were an external form of intimidation."
The Carter administration had declared that though the 1979 election of
Muzorewa had been conducted in a "reasonably fair way," it did not merit the
United States' support because Mugabe was not involved. The 1980 election,
on the other hand, which Mugabe won largely by threatening violence, the
Carter administration declared to be "free and fair," leading to the lifting
of sanctions. Mugabe, it seems, would have liked to return the favor. In
1980, mere months before Carter would resoundingly lose his reelection bid
to Ronald Reagan, Zimbabwe's new prime minister told African-American
leaders at a White House ceremony that if Carter "were running in our
territory, he would be assured of victory."
The defeat of Muzorewa and the triumph of Mugabe cast the West's Rhodesia
policy in stark relief: If Muzorewa had chosen Marxist revolution over
diplomacy and had endeared himself to African dictators, he would have won
Western support. Critics of Muzorewa alleged that his inability to stop the
civil war during his brief tenure as prime minister demonstrated ineffectual
leadership. In fact, it reflected the determination of Mugabe and Nkomo to
keep fighting until they secured power for themselves. The United States and
Great Britain gave Mugabe and Nkomo legitimacy by indulging the demands of
the African dictators.
Muzorewa warned what would happen if Mugabe won: "Any talk of democracy,
freedom, and independence will be turned into an impossible dream. . . .
This country will find itself wallowing in the dust of poverty, misery, and
starvation." To Mugabe's Western enablers, particularly Andrew Young, this
must have seemed like the jealous sniping of a man who had been turned out
of office. Yet from the vantage point of 2007, Muzorewa's prescience is
plain for all to see.
Tyranny sets in
The Carter administration's victory in Rhodesia was a hollow one. It is true
that not every fearsome forecast was immediately borne out: Mugabe did not
turn out to be the Soviet or Chinese agent many thought him, and the
conflagration raging in Angola did not spread into Zimbabwe. But fatal
damage was done. As early as August 1981, just over a year after taking
power, Mugabe called for a referendum on whether Zimbabwe should be a
one-party state. In 1982 he proclaimed, "ZANU-PF will rule forever," just as
he had promised throughout the Bush war. And writing in the New Republic in
early 1983, Xan Smiley, an editorial writer for the London Times, reported
that Mugabe's "rhetoric of egalitarianism and the demands of traditional
authoritarianism mean that individuals are going to get crushed." Not just
individuals, but whole groups of people would be crushed. From 1983 until
1987, Mugabe unleashed his North Korean-trained Fifth Brigade troops against
supposed Ndebele plotters in the Matabeleland massacres, slaughtering an
estimated 25,000 people.
The country's black leaders who dared to oppose Mugabe received the
treatment inevitably meted out by a paranoid tyrant. In 1983 Mugabe jailed
Muzorewa for 10 months, accusing him of plotting with South Africa and
Israel to overthrow the regime. He now lives quietly in Zimbabwe, ignored by
the world that spurned him nearly 30 years ago. The same year Nkomo,
Mugabe's erstwhile ally, fled the country fearing assassination. Mugabe
persuaded his old comrade to return and in 1987 forced him to agree to a
virtual one-party state, in which ZANU absorbed ZAPU and took 147 out of 150
seats in parliament. Nkomo spent the next 12 years of his life in obscurity.
Also in 1987, rightly fearing for his safety, Sithole sought political
asylum in the United States. He later returned to Zimbabwe and was elected
to parliament. But in 1997, Sithole was convicted of attempting to
assassinate Mugabe and was barred from returning to office. Other political
opponents either fell into line or have been imprisoned or killed.
For some years, Mugabe kept his promise to leave the whites alone. But in
2000 he instigated the forcible seizure of private farmland, which has
brought Zimbabwe economic collapse, famine, and a massive refugee crisis.
One-third of the country's population is estimated to have fled in the past
seven years. The dictator, now 83, having brought his country to its knees,
is hanging on only by the support of his armed forces and his fellow African
leaders, who share a residual admiration for this hero of African
Carter is unrepentant about his administration's support for Mugabe. At a
Carter Center event in Boston on June 8, he said that he, Young, and
Secretary of State Cyrus Vance had "spent more time on Rhodesia than on the
Middle East." Carter admitted that "we supported two revolutionaries in
Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo." He adopts the "good leader gone
bad" hindsight of Mugabe's early backers, stating that "at first [Mugabe]
was a very enlightened president." While conceding that Mugabe is now
"oppressive," Carter stressed that this murderer of tens of thousands "needs
to be treated with respect and assured that if he does deal with those
issues [democratization and human rights], he won't be punished or
prosecuted for his crimes." Though it has supervised elections in over 60
countries, the 25-year-old Carter Center has no projects in Zimbabwe, nor
has Carter (who demonstrates no compunction about lecturing others)
attempted to atone for the ruin that his policies as president wreaked.
History will not look kindly on those in the West who insisted on bringing
the avowed Marxist Mugabe into the government. In particular, the Jimmy
Carter foreign policy--feckless in the Iranian hostage crisis, irresolute in
the face of mounting Soviet ambitions, and noted in the post-White House
years for dalliances with dictators the world over--bears some
responsibility for the fate of a small African country with scant connection
to American national interests. In response to Carter's comment last month
that the Bush administration's foreign policy was the "worst in history,"
critics immediately cited those well-publicized failures. But the betrayal
of Bishop Muzorewa and of all Zimbabweans, black and white, who warned what
sort of leader Robert Mugabe would be deserves just as prominent a place
among the outrages of the Carter years.
James Kirchick is assistant to the editor-in-chief of the New Republic. He
reported from Zimbabwe and South Africa last year.