15 January 2006

African leaders finally speak up on Zimbabwe

BerlinBear avatarGiven my interest in, and frequent posts about, Dictator President Robert Mugabe's atrocities in Zimbabwe, I can't believe I missed this item when it first made the news. The leaders of Africa, under the auspices of the African Union, have finally spoken up about the lack of respect for human rights in Zimbabwe. About time too!

I have lamented on previous occasions that African leaders, first and foremost South Africa's president Thabo Mbeki, have stood by and watched as Mugabe perpetrates appalling crimes against his own people and destroys the economy and infrastructure of the country once considered the breadbasket of Africa. Now it would seem that African leaders are at least prepared to start talking the talk. Whether or not that will be followed by actually walking the walk remains to be seen.

The Guardian reports:
President Robert Mugabe's human rights record has been condemned for the first time by African leaders, significantly increasing pressure on the Zimbabwean leader to restore the rule of law and stop evicting people from their homes.

The unprecedented criticism comes from the African Union's Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, meeting in Banjul, the Gambia, which had until now been silent about the growing evidence of human rights abuses in Zimbabwe.

The commission's report, obtained by the Guardian, expresses concern over "the continuing violations and the deterioration of the human rights situation in Zimbabwe, the lack of respect for the rule of law and the growing culture of impunity".

The meeting in question was the 38th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, which was held in Banjul, the Gambia from 21st November to 5th December 2005. Unfortunately, the website of the Commission does not have the details of the Zimbabwe resolution. It has a final communique from the 38th session, which notes that resolutions were adopted regarding the human rights siutation not just in Zimbabwe, but also in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopa, the Darfur region in Sudan and Uganda. What is does not have, however, is a detailed report for download which contains the wording of these resolutions. A shame, really.

Clearly, it should be considered a positive development that African leaders are finally having stern words about what Mugabe is up to Zimbabwe. It has taken them much, much too long to get to this point, but better late than never, I suppose. I would like to see this rhetoric now followed up with real, concrete action to force Mugabe to shape up or (preferably) ship out. Telling a megalomaniacal psychopath that he has been a Bad Boy and that he is being watched just does not seem to me to cut the mustard.