Sunday, June 22, 2008

I Weep for Africa

In a sad and frustrating statement on Africa, Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of Zimbabwe's main oppositon party decided not to contest a run off election after president Mugabe's thugs continued months of violence and blocked a major rally. Tsvangirai summed up his reasons succinctly saying, "We in the MDC* cannot ask [people] to cast their vote on the 27th when that vote would cost them their lives."

Here in North America, we take our democracy for granted. In many African countries it is extremely fragile. Zimbabwe is a country with incredible potential, and yet at least 70 opposition supporters have been killed over the past several weeks by agents of Zimbabwe's government. Although the blame clearly rests with Mugabe himself and those around him that have enriched themselves while ruining the country, it's all the more maddening because it could have been prevented if the international community, particularly South Africa had pressured Mugabe out when he lost the last election in March.

For all the talk about sending help to Africa this is a moment when something can be done. South Africa should close the border to all trade with Zimbabwe until Mugabe steps down. Western governments should take every means possible to isolate Mugabe, fortify the opposition, and support Zimbabwe's other neighbouring countries such as Zambia that have already been working to end this crisis.

*Movement for Democratic Change

No comments: