Thursday, April 24, 2008

Is Zimbabwe the next Rwanda?

Tensions have been rising in the African nation while opposition to the longtime president Mugabe has become stronger. Last month elections were held between President Mugabe and the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), Morgan Tsvangirai. While the election commission will not come out with the results, causing and uproar in its own right, BBC is reporting that “a top US envoy” says Tsvangirai was the clear winner of the election. Mugabe does not accept the outcome and believes that no clear winner was produced from the election and a run-off is likely.

Mugabe is receiving an enormous amount of international pressure to step down from office or at the very least sit for negotiations. The US and South Africa are at the forefront of the international pressure on Mugabe. To me the fact that these particular countries support the MDC is no surprise. The US, obviously a strong proponent of spreading democracy, and South Africa, repeatedly involved in attempting to broker peace in other African nations, both have interests in Zimbabwe, either political or moral.

Governments are not the only institutions that are concerned with the rising tensions in Zimbabwe. The Anglican church is also speaking out against violence happening in the country and about the dispute over the election and said according to BBC, "If nothing is done to help the people of Zimbabwe from their predicament, we shall soon be witnessing genocide similar to that experienced in Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi and other hotspots in Africa and elsewhere.” Their basis for worrying about violence is the reportedly 10 ten deaths, 3,000 displaced people and 500 injured people as a result of the elections. Human rights groups are already involved and say that displaced people are reporting they were tortured for voting the “wrong way.”

Stakes are even higher right now, because there is a ship from a Chinese company has been instructed by the Zimbabwe government to bring ammunition and other deadly weapons into the country. However, pressure from the international community and other countries in Africa may force the ship to turn back. Zimbabwe, a landlocked country, will need to bring the arms through another country on the coast, but many countries, including South Africa, are refusing to let the ship’s cargo pass through their countries.

After looking at the circumstances surrounding the problems in Zimbabwe, I can understand why some Anglican Church leaders may feel as if a major break out of violence would occur. However, I think that the potential “genocide” they are worried about seems a bit over-dramatic (of course in times like these, over-dramatic is usually necessary). I think that the Church leaders are using strong language to draw international attention.

I do not think, though, that genocide will result from the violence that has erupted. I believe this for many reasons. Firstly, the violence is not as wide-spread as it was in countries like Rwanda or Sierra Leon. Also, most importantly, I think that the early involvement of the international community will put any major violence to a halt. It seems that the world does not want another situation like the one in Sudan to erupt in Africa. More and more attention is being centered on the troubles in Africa, not just on Sudan, but Kenya and now Zimbabwe.

So, I do not think, as the Anglican leaders have said, that genocide will erupt – I am hopeful that the international community will put an end to the issues in Zimbabwe before they escalate to catastrophic levels. - An interview with Tsvangirai!

1 comment:

Julia said...

It's crazy to see what's going on in Zimbabwe now. I remember reading this children's book about Zimbabwe which included its rich cultural tales and tribal beliefs - they are quite incredible. I wonder if people still experience or remember those stories of mystical children and tribal rituals during the political madness. What leaders will do to hold on to their power (?!)