Mugabe Watch: Birthday Bash Details
Our last post on Zimbabwe briefly chronicled Robert Mugabe’s rise and provided an overview of the political situation in the country, using the president’s week-long birthday celebration as a springboard. As the week comes to a close, permit us to quickly revisit the subject.
Mother Nature’s tone suggests she is even less enthused with Mugabe’s continued rule as she was last weekend. Yahoo! Weather’s extended forecast suggests the clouds and thunderstorms will continue well into March. While it’s impossible to ascertain what exactly Mugabe has done to merit such weather, Bellum has some ideas.
The list of food and drinks includes 2 000 bottles of champagne, 8 000 lobsters, 100kg of prawns 500 kg cheese, 4 000 portions caviar, 4 000 packets cream crackers, 3 000 ducks, 4 000 packets of pork sausages, 4 000 packets of borewors, 16 000 eggs, 16 000 croissants, 8 000 boxes Ferrero Rocha chocolates, 12 000 muffins, 500 bottles Johnny Walker Blue Label, Jack Daniels, Chivas 22 years, 100 bottles of Remy Martin, 4 000 chickens, 3 000 cakes and 500 bottles of olive oil.
Consider also the State Department’s latest human rights report on events in Zimbabwe last year:
The government or its agents committed politically motivated, arbitrary, and unlawful killings during the year. By year’s end over 193 citizens had been killed in political violence that targeted members of the opposition party. The MDC claimed that approximately 200 other members and supporters were missing and presumed dead at year’s end. The killings were primarily committed by members of ZANU-PF, ZANU-PF youth militia, war veterans, and, to a lesser extent, members of the military and police. The majority of politically motivated killings occurred between the March 29 harmonized election and the June 27 presidential run-off election. NGOs also estimated security forces killed between 200 and 300 citizens in the Chiadzwa diamond fields in Manicaland Province.
Consider further the report out of Hong Kong today that Mugabe has purchased a getaway there for $5 million, paying 30% over market for a property twice the size of most luxury apartments. Also consider Mugabe’s denial of said purchase, couched as it was in an interview in which he slammed freedom of the press as “nonsense.”
And finally, consider the larger context of all this: 3,900 Zimbabweans have died from cholera since August as the economy has crumbled and hospitals remain in disrepair.
The United States can no more solve this problem than it could end the genocide in Darfur. Regional actors, particularly South Africa, need to handle this one, and with a global financial crisis — coupled with the $5 billion in debt Zimbabwe already owes the international community — their hands may be nearly as tied as ours.