- The Washington Times - Monday, July 7, 2008


The following is the first of two columns about the “Hitler of Africa,” Robert Mugabe:

At the cost of at least 80 lives of members of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change - and thousands of Zimbabweans beaten mercilessly to nail down their votes - Robert Mugabe, running savagely alone, remains in total, ruthless control of the country he first liberated and then continues to terrorize. A witness to his victory is an 11-year-old boy whose legs were shattered by his “Green Bombers” youth militia.

Following Mr. Mugabe’s Stalinesque triumph, the U.N. Security Council expressed “deep regrets” that the election was conducted “in these circumstances.” That language would have been a tad more critical, but South Africa, not wanting to hurt Mr. Mugabe’s feelings, objected to describing the elections as “illegitimate.” On the very day before, hospitals in Harare, the capital, were overflowing, as there weren’t enough doctors. Some hospitals, responding to threats by the military, refused to take any more victims of torture.

Not at all surprisingly, the U.N. Human Rights Council has yet to even put on its agenda Mr. Mugabe’s extended version of the Nazis’ “Kristallnacht” that presaged the Holocaust, when the world also declined to intervene. [Editor’s note: Kristallnacht, was a Nazi-orchestrated series of riots targeting German Jewry that occurred on Nov. 9-10, 1938, in which at least 90 Jews were killed and upwards of 25,000 arrested and transported to concentration camps.]

As the June 25 Times of London reported, Mr. Mugabe, the liberator of his country, crowed: “Other people can say what they want, but the elections are ours. We are a sovereign state, and that is it.” The United Nations insists that the sovereignty of its members - even those who terrorize their own people - is inviolable. Savoring that guarantee, Mr. Mugabe declared during his solo “campaign”: “We will not accept any meddling in Zimbabwe’s internal affairs, even from fellow Africans.” Among the millions of Zimbabweans abandoned by the world are the survivors in Chitungwiza (18 miles south of Harare) of an attack on a home that was a refuge for Movement for Democratic Change members. Said one of them, 57-year-old Georgina Nyamutsamba, in a June 27 report in The Washington Post: “There are so many boys buried in (nearby) Warren Hills Cemetery, killed by Mugabe. Please help us suffering in Zimbabwe. What can we do?” One of the owners of that refuge, Annastasia Chipiyo, has given up any hope of deliverance from Zimbabwe’s liberator. She says: “I have nothing to fear. I’ve just lost my son” - one of the four murdered in the June 17 attack on her home. She has nothing left to lose. Untold numbers of Zimbabweans are also frozen in hopelessness.

Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change, withdrew from the runoff election because he did not want to add to the broken bodies of his supporters, saying in the June 25 edition of the Guardian newspaper in London: “Zimbabwe will break if the world does not come to our aid.” Mr. Tsvangirai has called on the United Nations to send peacekeepers to Mugabeland to clear the way for the new elections so that he could campaign as a “legitimate candidate” for whom Zimbabweans can vote without putting their very lives in danger.

But if the United Nations were to do more than express “deep regrets” and only impose more economic sanctions on Mr. Mugabe and his primary accomplices, that would hardly cause fear in the Hitler of Africa. Though well-intended, Queen Elizabeth’s ruling on June 25 to strip Mugabe of his 1994 knighthood Knight Grand Cross in the Order of Bath must have been derisively received by the cashiered knight.

You think he cares? Sarah Childress of the Wall Street Journal has been covering this satanic “election” that has shamed Africa and the world with consistent accuracy. “Mr. Mugabe,” she wrote on June 26, “has long disregarded what the world thinks of him. Unless Mr. Mugabe is pressured by his African counterparts, there is apparently little diplomats can do to sway him.”

Will the African Union expel Zimbabwe, as Mr. Mugabe is strangling that nation? What actions will now be taken by the Southern African Development Community, which Mrs. Childress describes as “the most powerful international (economic) actor in Zimbabwe’s drama?” How about military intervention, if all else fails, by Zimbabwe’s African leaders, an increasing number of whom are dismayed and repelled by Mr. Mugabe’s literally getting away with murder? Even the revered Nelson Mandela had, at long last, conquered his acute desire not to criticize another former freedom fighter against European colonizers. (The white rulers of Rhodesia kept Mr. Mugabe in prison for 10 years before he was out, and Rhodesia became Zimbabwe.) Celebrating his 90th birthday at a dinner in London, Mr. Mandela faced the naked, barbaric truth, and said there is “a tragic failure of leadership” in Zimbabwe. He didn’t speak the dreaded name, but the message was clear. Maybe Mr. Mugabe, on hearing Mr. Mandela’s irreverence, shrugged.

To be continued: Are there specific, realizable answers to Zimbabwean Georgina Nyamutsamba, mourning “so many boys buried … killed by Mugabe?” “What can we do?” she asks. Will there be no reply except more deep regrets and the impossibility of first having to get permission from U.N. Security Council members China and Russia to actually intervene with armed forces?

Nat Hentoff’s column for The Washington Times appears on Mondays.

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