Of what use is the United Nations?Voting early on the morning of Election Day in Zimbabwe, the only candidate, Robert Mugabe, smiling broadly, said he was “happy and hungry for victory.” In his wake are the corpses of at least 80 members of the Movement for Democratic Change and thousands of tortured and beaten opposition Zimbabweans. Among them — seen on the front page of the June 26 New York Times — is an 11-month-old boy whose legs were shattered by the “Green Bombers,” Mugabe’s youth militia.
By: Nat Hentoff, The Jamestown Sun
Voting early on the morning of Election Day in Zimbabwe, the only candidate, Robert Mugabe, smiling broadly, said he was “happy and hungry for victory.” In his wake are the corpses of at least 80 members of the Movement for Democratic Change and thousands of tortured and beaten opposition Zimbabweans. Among them — seen on the front page of the June 26 New York Times — is an 11-month-old boy whose legs were shattered by the “Green Bombers,” Mugabe’s youth militia.
Following 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 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 Mugabe’s extended version of the Nazis’ “Kristillnacht” that presaged the Holocaust, when the world also declined to intervene.
As the June 25 Times of London reported, 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, 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 Washington Post report: “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 run-off election because he did not want to add to the broken bodies of his supporters, saying in the June 25 The Guardian newspaper in London: “Zimbabwe will break if the world does not come to our aid.”
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 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 Mugabe is strangling that nation? What actions will now be taken by the Southern African Development Community, which 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 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 Mugabe in prison for 10 years before he was out, and Rhodesia became Zimbabwe.)
Celebrating his 90th birthday at a dinner in London, 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 Mugabe, on hearing 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 is a nationally renowned authority on the First Amendment and the Bill of Rights and author of many books, including “The War on the Bill of Rights and the Gathering Resistance” (Seven Stories Press, 2004).
Copyright 2008, Newspaper Enterprise Assn.