Friday, May 18, 2007

Is Zimbabwe a Threat?

Is Zimbabwe qualified to head the UN’s Sustainable Development Program, or are the European Union’s concerns groundless?

By: Vanessa Uy

In May 4, 2007, Zimbabwe was elected to head the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Program via “Secret Ballot.” This made Francie Nhema, Zimbabwe’s environment minister very magnanimous in victory. But there are lingering questions on how Zimbabwe could head this UN program when President Robert Mugabe’s flawed land reform policy has transformed the country from “Africa’s Breadbasket” to a country whose agricultural system can hardly even feed her own people. And for the first time, the US Government showed concern on Zimbabwe’s human rights violations and the Mugabe regime’s treatment of the political opposition. US State Department’s Dan Reifsnyder voiced his concerns over Zimbabwe’s ability and qualifications to run the UN Sustainable Development Program. The British Government and the European Union have always been mindful of Zimbabwe’s human rights record of the past three years or so. Is President Robert Mugabe another Idi Amin in the making? Only time will tell.

Once upon a time, the former British colony called Rhodesia changed her name to Zimbabwe back in 1979 to assert her newly acquired freedom and sovereignty. In 1980, Robert Mugabe was elected president. That’s right people, he’s been running the country since that time. My “dogs-of-war” buddies have viewed Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe –at the time- as a model for African self-determination. But 20 or so years later it’s as if Zimbabwe has fallen from grace. President Mugabe’s heavy-handed approach to quell the political opposition has been criticized by the EU for a number of years now. And President Mugabe’s greatest folly is the expulsion of “white farmers” from their own farmlands. These lands were given to native Zimbabweans with no industrial- scale farming expertise. This policy has decimated Zimbabwe’s agricultural industry since then.

It’s good that the US Government finally gave a damn about this issue and voiced their criticisms over the Mugabe Regime. In the last 4 years, it seems like only 10 Downing Street gives a damn about the course of action President Mugabe takes. It seems that the policymakers on Capitol Hill are willing to overlook one more of Africa’s problems, like they did back in April of 1994.

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