June 12, 2003
ZIMBABWE, CONGO THE FOCUS IN A 'MUCH MALIGNED CONTINENT'
Zimbabwe and DROC have deteriorated enough to warrant outside attention.
failure of the MDC's final push to move Mugabe reveals the opposition's
"inherent weakness"; Tsvangirai judged a "fool" for
abandoning dialogue; "not fit" to be president.
** Regional politicians must "crank up the
pressure" on Mugabe, quiet diplomacy is not working.
** Outside intervention is required in the Congo
to stop "genocide"; EU to play pivotal role.
Both Mugabe and Tsvangirai are contributing to
Zim's 'meltdown'-- Last week's strike hardened the independent vs. pro-government
polarization of the Zimbabwean press.
Demanding that Mugabe "admit he is finished," the independent Daily
News, the weekly Standard and Zimbabwe Independent depicted
Mugabe's "belligerency" as a sign of weakness, exposing a
"desperately insecure regime" dependent on "brute force" to
survive. Emboldened, pro-government
dailies accused the opposition of "treacherous naiveté," gloating
that Tsvangirai had lost his legitimacy and that his "Western
handlers" had overestimated his popularity. South African papers denounced Mugabe and
Tsvangirai for being equally "myopic" in their ambitions, with
Johannesburg's Sunday Times advising both sides "to go back to
talking to each other, instead of past each other."
African leaders must stop 'shielding' Mugabe-- Observers judged the
"quiet diplomacy" of Presidents Mbeki, Obasanjo and Muluzi a
"considerable failure," equal to "showing solidarity with the
oppressor." Independent Zimbabwean
papers urged the African "troika" to ask Mugabe to "step
down." Others shared the view of
Johannesburg's Afro-centric City Press that even with international
intervention, "the Zimbabwean people will continue to languish until the
internal leadership vacuum is filled."
The centrist Afrikaans Beeld preferred Zimbabwe to be
"rescued by Africa itself," with the U.S. staying in the
"background." Western papers
considered Zimbabwe a test of Africa's democratic credentials, echoing the
centrist Winnipeg Free Press's bluntness that "until Africa as a
whole decides to choose democracy and isolate and overthrow its dictators...the
news from that continent will continue to be, always, bad."
Western, UN intervention required in Congo, a
'litmus test' for EU-- Recognizing the "impotence" of the UN monitoring
force, editorials in Africa and Europe backed a more robust mandate allowing
the UN to act decisively "by force if necessary" to prevent the
DROC's civil war from "plunging" into genocide. Aware of the "immense risks,"
European analysts viewed the EU's lead in the Congo mission as an opportunity
to grow into a new role, to be conducted, as left-of-center Frankfurter
Rundschau stressed, "not according to the U.S. model in Iraq, but by
strictly complying with international law." After the loss of compatriots in Afghanistan,
however, German papers questioned Germany's interest in being part of a
peacekeeping force in the "heart of Africa," where the situation
appears "more confusing" than in Afghanistan.
This analysis is based on 55 reports from 13 countries, May 8-June
12. Editorial excerpts from each country
are listed from the most recent date.
Digging Its Own Grave"
The independent Daily News commented (6/9): “Faced with glaring evidence of the people of
Zimbabwe’s dissatisfaction with the government, President Robert Mugabe is
maintaining a belligerent attitude, threatening the opposition and participants
in last week’s mass action with retribution....
It must be clear even to the ruling ZANU-PF that such heavy-handedness...would
again send the wrong signals to local and foreign investors.... We fully
appreciate the government’s need to show that it is still in charge following a
mass action that humiliatingly demonstrated that force alone is keeping the
ruling party in power. But we would urge
prudence in the aftermath of last week’s protests, for the good of the nation
and indeed for the government’s own good....
The government’s iron-fisted response to the mass action and a violent
campaign of retribution in the next few weeks will only harden the people’s
hearts against the ruling party, which is clearly playing into the hands of the
opposition’s hands. If ZANU-PF continues
to display its lack of maturity, it will ultimately dig its own grave.”
"Tsvangira’s Fate: No One Above The Law"
The government-controlled Herald argued (6/9): “The arrest of MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai
for making treasonous statements will reassure Zimbabweans that the justice
system is alive and well in the country and the police will not be intimidated
by anyone from carrying out its constitutional mandate.... The AG (Attorney-General) and police should
be commended for their boldness in holding Tsvangirai accountable for his
actions. Let the courts decide whether
his actions have been lawful or not....
The arrest of Tsvangirai...is a sobering development and a stark
reminder that the law in Zimbabwe is not like a cobweb, which may catch small
flies but will let wasps and hornets break through. No one is above the law.”
"Admit You Are Finished"
The independent weekly Daily News remarked (6/9): “Still, from the intensity of the panic with
which the government reacted to the mass action...one thing is clear: Mugabe
must admit that politically he is finished.
No longer can he stand up and brazenly claim that the people are behind
The people are not behind him any more.
They are not even frightened of him or his savage security machinery any
more. They are thoroughly fed up with
his misrule and are praying the he will exit the scene while he can still do it
with a modicum of dignity and self-respect.
If Mugabe and ZANU-PF dismiss the mass action as a flash in the pan and
hope that people will start to sing Mugabe’s and ZANU-PF’s praises this week,
then the country is headed for a very long period of instability. If Mugabe does not acknowledge that only
through a sincere dialogue with the MDC can the country return to a semblance
of the political and economic normalcy before 2000, then he is throwing down
the gauntlet and daring the people: what else can you do to me? The answer to that defiance may be to ghastly
"Confront The Real Issues Mr. Mugabe"
Under the sub-head, "The real threat to your power base Mr.
President is not Tsvangirai but the people of Zimbabwe," the independent
weekly Standard stressed (6/8):
“As long as the country’s economy remains in intensive care, your own
position will remain vulnerable. This is
the crux of the matter. You can delude
yourself by dismissing the protests as a flop but is this the real issue? The real issue, Mr. President, is that the
people of Zimbabwe are completely dissatisfied and disillusioned with the state
of affairs in the country. Tsvangirai
has won the hearts and minds of the Zimbabweans because of this dissatisfaction
and disillusionment - pure and simple....
President Mugabe and the ruling party must neither underrate the mood of
the people or their power to change things.
As long as Zimbabweans continue to suffer the way they are doing, the
challenge and threat to the President’s power base remains. And it will be arrogant and naïve in the
extreme for the government and its media to gloat that they have scored an
immense propaganda victory over Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDC.”
"Dialogue Must Resume"
The pro-government weekly Sunday Mirror observed
(6/8): “While the nation is evidently
politically polarized, it is an understatement to say the Zimbabweans are
united in their hope for a swift improvement in the political and economic
condition they find their country in....
These facts in themselves create an adequate basis for engagement
between the two parties (ZANU-PF and MDC).
Any further procrastination on this fundamental issue is definitely not
in the national interest. For, the
damage to the already tottering economy and the increasingly violent political
culture that is emerging in this country do not bode well for the nation.”
"Corporates Supping With The Devil"
The government-controlled weekly Sunday Mail judged
(6/8): “It is clear that the week-long
stayaway was successful in terms of business shutdown and not mass action or
demonstrations. The question that then
comes to mind is why business chose to become so partisan in an environment
where there are two contesting political forces. What they did amounted to advocating a
violent overthrow of a government that they tomorrow will be expecting to work
with and calling on to create an environment in which they can prosper. This is a sign of treacherous naiveté that
will only result in a souring of relations with the very political force that
controls their destiny.”
"Tsvangirai Loses Legitimacy To Lead Party"
Government-controlled Herald commented (6/7): “MDC leader
Morgan Tsvangirai has lost all legitimacy to lead the opposition party, having
failed to deliver on all political promises he made to his supporters over the
past three years.... Tsvangirai can give
all the explanation he wants to justify why no one seriously observed his call
for mass marches, but the bottom line is that he failed to unseat the
government of President Mugabe.”
"Regime Clinging To Power By Force"
The independent weekly Zimbabwe Independent
(6/6): "If the MDC is unable to
assemble its supporters in town centers, its leadership is at least able to
call a successful strike whenever it likes.
No amount of threats by ministers...could get people to work.... At the end of the week the impression that
remained was one of a desperately insecure regime using every means at its
disposal...to get the country back to work....The reality, which the world was
able to observe this week, was of a regime that is only able to survive by
brute force.... We are all agreed that by its campaign this week the MDC has
drawn the attention of the country and the world to the connection between
brutal misrule and economic collapse.
That is the issue successfully dramatized by its followers in the teeth
of repression and which can no longer be ignored, not even by the delusionist
in State House.”
“Politicians Playing Into West’s Hands”
The pro-government weekly Business Tribune held (6/5): “In
the end, both ZANU-PF and the MDC are playing into the hands of the West. On the other hand, ZANU-PF believes it will
eventually subdue what they label the West’s surrogate (the MDC) by using the
state machinery while on the other the MDC looks up to the West’s economic and
military muscle to effect a regime change.... They are both bound to fail. Meanwhile the West will be the victor. As the destruction of the economy continues
until total collapse...whoever is going to preside over the ashes will have to
appeal for Western assistance and the West will only be too happy to give it -
with strings attached.... The mass
action must have been quite embarrassing to both Thabo Mbeki and Olusegun
Obasanjo.... Uppermost in their minds
could be how Zimbabwe has continued to display to the world its political
immaturity. Zimbabweans should now rise
above their bovine intelligence and begin to behave like people who appreciate
the extent of the Zimbabwean crisis.”
"Crushing Protests Not The Solution"
The independent Daily News observed
(6/4): “In forcefully crushing the street
protests of the opposition MDC this week, President Robert Mugabe’s government
also unwittingly tied a burdensome and tricky knot around its neck. By authorizing the deployment of thousands of
army troops and police to snuff out the protests just as they were being
launched, the government could find itself facing a dilemma of when to pull out
these forces from the streets, if at all....
Indeed, can the use of military might alone buy the government more time
in power, in the face of overwhelming public discontent with its rule...? Unfortunately, the hardening positions of
both the government and the MDC, let alone the poisoned timing, do not favor
meaningful inter-party talks that must necessarily focus on governance issues
that have triggered Zimbabwe’s collapse....
A harsh military clampdown on protests by concerned citizens certainly
does not offer a lasting solution.”
"Tsvangirai Overestimating Popularity"
The government-controlled Herald (6/4) commented: “Monday
marked the beginning of what MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai and his Western
handlers hoped would be a week of mass demonstrations tailored to topple the
democratically elected government of President Robert Mugabe. Well, that did not happen and once again
Tsvangirai was left with egg in the face.
His Western handlers, who we understand poured billions of dollars into
the futile exercise, must be particularly red in the face.... No, Tsvangirai, Zimbabweans don’t need your
sacrifice.... We think Tsvangirai is
overestimating his popularity and fear that he will get a nasty jolt come
presidential polls in 2008. We join
other peace-loving Zimbabweans in congratulating our security forces for rising
to the occasion and ensuring that misguided elements do not rampage through our
cities, destroying property and looting, as is their wont.”
“The People’s Loud And Clear Voice”
The independent Daily News judged (6/3):
“But the stunning shutdown of the entire nation, with the capital Harare eerily
deserted and resembling a ghost town, dramatically and graphically underlined
who now calls the shots in the power stakes in Zimbabwe. The overwhelming response of Zimbabweans to
stay put at home after dire threats from the government that it would crush the
protests showed that, while the administration had possibly won this phase of
the battle, it had significantly lost the war.
The nationwide shutdown dramatized in no uncertain terms...that the
people will no longer be cowed and that people power is now on the
ascendancy.... All signals point to one
certainty: freedom is coming tomorrow.”
“Do Or Die”
The independent weekly Standard commented
(6/1): “It is a sad indictment those who
have enjoyed the privilege of leading this country over the past 23 years that
today, a once prosperous beacon of hope in Africa, has been reduced to another
basket case in a much maligned continent....
As Zimbabweans either march in their cities and towns or simply stay at
home, it will not necessarily be about the removing the de facto President and
the government from power but to say ‘Enough is Enough.’ The tide of feeling about the tragedy that has
gripped the country is running very high and this could be the opportunity for
Zimbabweans to shake off a label now being bandied around - that we are a
Balanced Business Day commented (6/12): "It is a busy time for Africa and its
leaders.... Next month, they are off to
the African Union (AU) summit in Maputo....
It is easy to be cynical and charge these politicians with spending too
much time gabbing...rather than doing concrete things to improve the lives of
less glamorous Africans. But the
meetings are important--particularly given the challenges Africa faces.... The continent's leaders have...put much store
on the mooted organs of the AU, which are supposed to be the beacons and
pillars of what the continental body will do, the hope is that these organs
will now be put into place without delay....
But the continent will have to be careful about how and where these
bodies operate from.... Africa is moving
towards the vision Mbeki entertains at very different speeds. Perhaps the laggards should simply be
forgotten while a more virtuous core is constructed."
"Africa's Uphill Battle"
The liberal Star editorialized (6/12): "It has not been a good week for
Africa. Our continent--desperately
seeking to free itself from oppression--has witnessed major turmoil in both
Liberia and Mauritania, and then Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of Congo
continue to fester.... Mugabe continues
to cling to power. He is not only
ruining that country economically, but is brutalizing his own people as he does
so. This is very bad news for the whole
of the Southern Africa. The message is
clear. Africa's century of revival has
got off to a very shaky start. But that
should not deter the continent's leaders, it merely means they must redouble their
efforts to establish peace and good governance."
"Africa's Rulers Follow In Footsteps Of Bush's
Executive director of the "Steve Biko Foundation" and
political analyst Xolela Mangcu opined in balanced Business Day (6/12):
"In the past week I have been thinking about how best to
characterize the nature of international relations...and the implications of
those relations for democracy in Africa and South Africa. The only image that comes to mind is that of
a gung-ho cowboy U.S .imperialism that is being abetted by Africa's ruling
elite. This would not be the first time
in history that global imperialism finds partners from the continent.... George Bush and Co have started us on a
slippery slope to a global cynicism that will take decades to reverse, not
least because African rulers...see personal fortunes for themselves in this new
world order.... The Africans have
already rented their countries to the U.S. oil companies.... And it is precisely because they earn so much
from the royalties...that these leaders disregard the African Union and
Nepad.... This, then, is the ultimate
paradox of the African Renaissance--the coexistence of a rent-seeking African
oligarchy and the extension of formal democracy for the rest of us.... Is SA headed in the same direction?"
"Why Zimbabwe 'Final Push' Was A Failure"
Ibbo Mandaza of the Zimbabwe Mirror
remarked in Johannesburg's independent, largest black circulation Sowetan
(6/10): "The apparent
vacillation--and even panic--on the part of Tsvangarai does, of course, betray
the inherent weakness of an opposition party which, were it not for an external
factor that seeks to use it as a weapon to wear down Mugabe and his government,
might have paled into insignificance following two defeats (the general
election of 2000 and the presidential one of 2002) at the polls....
"[T]he MDC has done well to imbibe and
pander to the language of the new 'democratic movements that have been so
naturally and obviously patronised by the northern hemisphere, from Yugoslavia
to Iraq; and, predictably and inevitably, across Africa and the Third World
generally. But, so far, the opposition movement in Zimbabwe has failed to
contextualise all this to the historical and political realities of the country
nor to the regional and international imperatives over Zimbabwe. Instead, the MDC, or at least that faction of
it that sought to embark on the 'final push,' has become self-indulgent in the
misplaced and vain belief that the opposition party, and it alone, is central
and indispensable to whatever happens and will happen in Zimbabwe. What matters now is whether the failed 'final
push' will be an occasion for positive self-reflection across the political
divide in the realisation that only national dialogue and constitutional
reform, and not political confrontation can get Zimbabwe on the "road
map" to the general elections in 2005. "
"Wrong Side At A Bad Time"
Johannesburg's the privately-owned, conservative
Citizen (6/10): "With security forces putting down popular protest
in Zimbabwe, and the opposition leader in jail, what does South Africa do? We send a fawning SABC flunkey to conduct a
grovelling interview with 'his excellency' Robert Mugabe, and we invite a Zim
Minister here in breach of Commonwealth sanctions. What a pathetic response by
a neighbour who should be helping the people of Zimbabwe in their hour of need.
Instead our authorities seek to show solidarity with the oppressor. 'Quiet
diplomacy' has one aim: to bolster Mugabe.... By flouting the Commonwealth ban
on Zim, the gesture mocks SA's supposed adherence to 'multilateralism,' which
means abiding by the decisions of umbrella organisations.... There are people who need moral support in
the face of a jackboot crackdown. South Africa has chosen the wrong side."
"Mugabe Won One Battle, Not The War"
Bill Saidi contributed the following in the
independent, largest black circulation Sowetan (Internet version
6/9): "The mass action called by
the MDC last week is part of their campaign to drag Mugabe, kicking and
screaming if need be, to the negotiating table without any
preconditions.... At the end of the
MDC's final push, the government and the MDC leadership will have to make a few
hard choices. If they agree to resume
the dialogue, then the ground rules must include Mugabe's recognition that the
MDC is neither a puppet of the West, nor determined to ruin the country's
economy to gain political ascendancy over Zanu PR....
"If Mugabe insists that they recognise him
as president before any talks get under way, then their quid pro quo might be a
guarantee from Mugabe that he will step down and launch a transitional
arrangement leading to early presidential elections.... For Tsvangirai, long criticised by his
supporters for lacking the guts to confront Mugabe's violence with his own, a
call to go into combat against Mugabe under the president's own rules of
engagement could provide a litmus test for his leadership. Although he can now be assured of massive
support from people who believe Mugabe has failed to drag the country out of
its economic quagmire, he may still lack the charisma to persuade the doubting
Thomases in Zanu PF itself to throw in their lot with him. But Tsvangirai has little to lose; he is not
in power and cannot be judged on the same basis as Mugabe, who has made so many
errors of judgment even his most loyal supporters now wish he would leave the
scene with whatever dignity and grace he can muster, even at this late
"Crunch Time "
The conservative Citizen commented (6/9): "It's crunch time for Zimbabwe and
for...Nepad. This week's planned
demonstrations, and the threats of suppression...will put that country in the
limelight while the world's richest nations sort out their priorities at the G8
meeting.... As Mugabe bashes his
opponents, the message ...will be that Africa is not serious about good
governance. As long as President Mbeki
soft-pedals on Zim, Nepad will struggle to gain the G-8 support it desperately
needs. This week we need to hear a
"Time For Mugabe To Face Reality"
The privately-owned Sunday Times of
Johannesburg explained (Internet version 6/8): "The MDC and Zanu-PF both
need to learn their lessons from this latest conflict and concentrate their
energies on building a future that will get the country out of the morass it is
stuck in. Simply, they need to go back
to talking to each other, instead of past each other, urgently. The onus is on Mugabe, as the more powerful
player, to get these talks under way....
So far, he has demonstrated a powerful reluctance about such talks, as
he has continued to set unrealistic preconditions. He should just go into the talks and be open
to whatever they may reveal about what a significant number of Zimbabweans
think should happen. Of course it's no
big secret that what they want is for him to step down, sooner rather than
later.... [I]t's time Mugabe dealt with that reality.... Zanu can either provide that leadership or
accept that people will look elsewhere for it.
Once a people has decided to throw off the yoke of oppression, not the
police, not the army--nor even bands of young thugs disguised as war
veterans--can stop the urge to be free.
Don't take our word for that. Just ask Ian Smith or P W Botha."
"Teamwork Can Rescue Zimbabwe "
Political editor for
liberal Star, Khathu Mamaila commented (6/2): 'Last week Tsvangirai dashed the hopes of
the people of Zimbabwe for any solution soon, saying that he would never be
party to any coalition or transitional government between Zanu-PF and the
MDC. Instead he opted for what his party
termed the 'final push' to get rid of Mugabe.
This is an unfortunate path; Tsvangirai is contributing to the
destruction of his country and the suffering of his people. There may be very little left to rule over if
he achieves his ambition of becoming president.
The MDC...cannot rule Zimbabwe without the co-operation of Zanu-PF that
has firmly entrenched itself in the defense force, the police and the civil
service. Equally, there cannot be any
real political solution by Zanu-PF without the MDC. But for now, they both seem to be myopic and
incapable of fulfilling their historic mission of rescuing Zimbabwe from the
brink of total meltdown. Betraying this
mission will not only affect Zimbabweans but the entire Southern African
"UN Congo Force Has
Businesswoman and political commentator Dianna Games stated in
balanced Business Day (6/2): "The UN force in Congo...does not have
the capacity to deal effectively with the complex situation.... A senior Monuc official described the
force's mandate to me as being 'mission
impossible.'... The UN emergency force
is vital to contain the situation....
But its role, and that of a longer-term beefed up Monuc force, needs to
be far wider than finding a military solution.
It needs to fill the governance gap.
It must put in place sustainable structures for maintaining peace and
security and must be backed by thorough regional, international and
multilateral support measures. Space
must be created for the fledgling central government to prove it can be
effective. As long as military issues
continue to sideline economic growth and investment in the Congo, and as long
as the country is awash with arms and people ready to act as proxies for all
comes, nothing much will change. The
long-term solution lies, as usual, in development."
"Zim: A Disaster In The Offing"
Assistant editor Wally Mbhele judged in the pro-government, Afro-centric City Press (6/1): "Only fools are prepared to use their
people as cannon fodder for political gain.
And his is exactly what Tsvangirai wants to do.... Only fools abandon negotiations in pursuit
of confrontation, as Tsvangirai appears to be doing.... I don't think Zimbabwe ' s new leader should
be Tsvangirai. Judging by the manner in
which he's begun to manage opposition politics in Zimbabwe, I think he is not
fit for the presidency.... It is not
necessary for people to die for Tsvangirai's cause to attract international
attention - if indeed this is what he seeks.... While all along we believed that Mugabe was
the most unreasonable, Tsvangirai has suddenly emerged as equally blind to
reality. His attitude to negotiations is
sickening.... Tsvangirai must take a
lead out of Mandela's book and desist from using those who yearn for freedom in
Zimbabwe as cannon fodder. There is
indeed no honor among thieves.
Tsanvgirai must begin to negotiate if he wants to be taken seriously.
"Zimbabwe On The Brink"
Balanced Business Day commented (5/28): "Hope that Zimbabwe could be saved from
total implosion, following the visit...by a troika of African presidents, is
fading fast.... The continued weakness
in Africa's response to the Zimbabwean crisis is our leaders ' selective amnesia about who has brought
Zimbabwe to where it is today, and their tendency to portray Mugabe as the
victim rather than what he is; a vicious dictator who refuses to accept the
fact that it is time to go."
"Zimbabwe: A Classical Case Of Leadership Vacuum"
Political analyst Prince Mashele, judged in
pro-government, Afro-centric City
Press (5/18): "Clearly, the
Zimbabwean crisis cannot be resolved without the readiness of the
country's leadership...to rise above
narrow political zigzagging. The recent
intervention of Mbeki, Obasanjo and Muluzi proved that no matter how much
international intervention takes place in Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwean people will continue to languish
until the internal leadership vacuum is filled.
Whether this will emerge with Mugabe's departure from the political
stage, or when another leader succeeds Tasvangirai in the MDC, remains to be
"Don't Talk Of Zim 'Regime Change'"
Chris Landsberg stated in liberal Star (5/12): "Regime change á la hawkish Bush
administration in America cannot work in
the African context. The stakes are too
high the political terrain too complex,
and the actors and interests far too many and interwoven for a simplistic notion like replacing one
leader and one regime with another to
work. It is instead to the idea of
negotiated transitions and bargained
outcomes that we have to look to in Africa.
Both might have the same result -
the removal of a despotic leader, but the two
differ in crucial respects...
Even Walter Kansteiner...felt the need
to make a U-turn and describe how diplomacy and working for a transition in Zimbabwe...was a rational and
prudent response to the Zimbabwe
crisis.... Mugabe and his party...appear
to be living in denial about the
consequences of their political egotism and bravado. So, Mbeki and his African counterparts are
right in striving for a negotiated transition in Zimbabwe. "
"UN Needs To Act On DRC "
The liberal Star commented (5/13): "Mbeki's plea to the United Nations to
use its peacekeeping force in the Democratic Republic of Congo to engage
hostile elements is not only to prevent further loss of civilian life, but also
to help rescue a flawed, fragile peace....
The complex conflicts in the Great Lakes region have often been
exacerbated by meddling from neighbors, whose interventions and support of
rebel movements have meant instability....
Very much at risk at this knife-edge juncture is the shaky peace
process, and the transitional government taking shape under.... Kabila. An integrated defense force is still in the
making, leaving the country awfully vulnerable.
Bold action is therefore necessary.
The UN must act decisively and urgently in maintaining peace - by force
if needs be.... It should therefore
agree to the Mbeki request on behalf of Africa."
The liberal Mercury editorialized (5/13): "The request...highlights at least two
anomalies of that conflict. One is that
the UN troops are supposed to be peacekeepers.... Yet quite clearly conditions in the eastern
Congo are nowhere near settled enough for a purely monitoring role.... Another is that the UN presence is clearly
inadequate in terms of numbers.... If
UN troops are stretched too thin on the ground, they can neither monitor
properly nor serve as a stabilizing factor simply by being there. If...Kofi Annan were to accede to Mbeki's
request...there would have to be every safeguard that the UN force does not get
sucked into the conflict virtually as another belligerent... The Congo's size and complexity of its
conflicts tend to make a mockery of agreements that look good on paper. "
Afrikaans language, centrist Beeld commented (5/13):
"It's important for Zimbabwe and its neighbors that...Mugabe retires and a
government of national unity is quickly established in the country for credible
elections [to take place]. It's also
important for Africa that the Zimbabwe situation is rescued by Africa
itself.... If the situation...can be
rescued by Africa...it'll be a great advantage to the continent and Nepad. It's heartwarming that Britain and the United
States are seen to be involved in resolving a situation in Africa, but their
role should be in the background - provided that the Africa-troika's diplomacy
works and they are able to remove Mugabe."
"Shamuyarira's Utterances Cause For Concern"
The independent weekly Gaborone Sunday
Tribune warned (6/8): "Comments
made by Comrade Nathan Shamuyarira, the spokesperson for the ruling ZANU PF in
Zimbabwe are a cause for great concern.... For Shamuyarira to tell his
supporters that Botswana is playing dirty tricks on his country is mischievous.
It in fact does not augur well for good neighbourliness and it reverses all the
gains the two states have made.... Of course we do understand that Shamuyarira
is a politician and being that he is bound to utter any rubbish that comes to
his mind to keep his political stripes but this time he has just gone too far.
We do also acknowledge that Zimbabwe is going through a hard time and that
tempers are always flaring but he should be able to guard both his tongue and
mind.... It even boggles that mind that
an intellectual like him should sink so slow. Botswana has done so much to help
Zimbabwe and Shamuyarira would be the first one to admit that Botswana has
always supported the cause of the Zimbabwean people.... President Mugabe should discipline
Shamuyarira because his utterances have the potential to alienate the people of
the two countries. Shamuyarira and his ilk must know that Zimbabwe has
everything to gain by working with Botswana and everything to lose by upsetting
people who are prepared to sacrifice their overstretched resources to bail out
a neighbour whose house is on fire.
Botswana leaders must, once again, be commended for always maintaining
their cool even under extreme and unjustified provocation."
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO: "Peace
Process In Great Lakes Region"
Commentary by Le Potentiel correspondent
Freddy Monsa Iyaka Duku in privately-owned independent Kinshasa Digitalcongo
(Internet version, 6/5): "In the Great Lakes region, the language of arms
has been replaced by dialogue.... After
observing the turbulence in Ituri that would undermine the peace process in the
DRC, the West promptly reacted at the level of the UN Security Council to send
a rapid intervention force to Ituri.
Contrary to the mandate of the UN Observer Mission in Congo [MONUC], the
force will use arms to impose peace.
Sixty-five countries have expressed their readiness to support this
force placed under French command. The
most outstanding thing is that Ituri reconciled France and Great Britain on the
one hand, and France and the United States on the other. Thus, the Western troika was reconstituted
to send an unequivocal signal: the effective end of war in the Democratic
Republic of Congo. Another sign that the
United States is still imperial and that the 'Western powers' are imposing
themselves in the Great Lakes sub-region, is undoubtedly the arrival of
Ambassador Swing at the head of MONUC....
Washington does not want Mr. Swing's mandate to end with a failure.... It may not be the Rambouillet scheme
concerning Kosovo, or that of Berlin in 1885 to redistribute cards in the Great
Lakes region. But, it is a kind of
blending of the two; that it to say, Congo to the Congolese, Rwanda to
Rwandans, Burundi to Burundians, and Uganda to Ugandans -- under the watchful
eye of the West, now omnipresent in the region. Yet, the positive implementation of the West
is bearing fruit. It will be a great
mistake to show proof of political blindness and deafness. It is rather necessary to adequately manage
the new situation that will undoubtedly impact on the peace process in the
Great Lakes region."
TANZANIA: "Stop This
Carnage In DRC Congo"
The English-language IPP-owned weekly Family
Mirror (5/13): "The conflict in
the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is causing great concern in Africa, if
not in the whole world. Fighting among
tribal militias and external forces from Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda, is robbing
this continent of human and material resources.... The situation in the DRC at present is
deadly. And the United Nations Mission
in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC) has been rendered
ineffective.... The people of the DRC
should not be made refugees in their own country neither in neighboring
countries.... And those who finally find refuge have reportedly caused havoc to
the host nation. Tanzania has
experienced land degradation and deforestation as refugees indiscriminately
felled trees to get poles for making shelters as well as getting fuel wood.
"Africa has suffered too many problems to
encourage internal conflicts that bring nothing more than poverty, diseases,
famine and brutal death. It's time
Africa had a break for building the respective countries' economies in order to
form as strong, united, healthy and prospective Africa. The United Nations, the African Union and the
international community in general, should help Africa and its internal
conflicts and focus on socio-economic development. To achieve this goal, the fighting and
looting in the DRC should be stopped now."
BRITAIN: "Mugabe Buys Time In Grim
Filing from Harare Rory Carroll commented in the
center-left Observer (6/8):
"Resorting to a surreal mix of charm, bluff and terror, President
Robert Mugabe is fighting this weekend to buy himself time to save his
regime.... Charm is not something the aloof 79-year-old is known for, but a
propaganda drive is attempting to shore up support among loyalists in the
country and sympathisers in South Africa....
"Harare's second prong is an emergency fix
for an economy in freefall. The government needs cash to pay salaries - not
least for the police, soldiers and militia - and fuel.... Mugabe wants the time and leverage for a
smooth transfer of power which will protect him in retirement from the sort of
travails visited on the likes of Pinochet, Honecker and Milosevic.... The
gravest danger is that the successor will turn out to be Morgan Tsvangirai,
leader of the Movement for Democratic Change, who has not accepted losing last
year's rigged presidential election.After a series of one-day general strikes
the MDC called last week for a 'final push', a five-day set of strikes and
street protests to topple the president....
For analysts the cliche of choice is endgame, and this must surely be
the regime's final phase, but it could last weeks, months, years. Zimbabwe is locked in a grim stalemate: the
opposition has widespread support but cannot muster the sort of protests which
toppled Slobodan Milosevic. The president can crush dissent but not control
events, so he plays for time, a game he does well.
"Into Eastern Congo"
The independent Financial Times presented
this editorial view (5/28): "The task of an international force in trying
to stop a bloodbath in the northeast of the Democratic Republic of Congo is
unlikely to be easy. But the need is
urgent for decisive action to protect civilians and bring humanitarian
assistance into the region....The UN monitoring force has proved impotent. Up to now the US - and Britain - have favored
handing the job to peacekeepers from other African countries rather than
reinforcing an already large and costly UN presence. But the situation now demands the rapid
dispatch of properly trained, well equipped soldiers, under a new, robust
mandate allowing the use of force where necessary. A signal of international resolve could
prevent wider destabilization and help Congo's emerging power-sharing
government to establish some measure of authority over a country where upwards
of 3 million people are thought to have died in the past years as a direct or
indirect result of the conflict. A
failed UN operation now in Congo would be damaging both to the organization and
to prospects of containing such conflicts in the future. Getting this right is as important as doing
it at all."
FRANCE: "France Steps Up Interventions In
Thierry Oberle judged in right-of-center Le
Figaro (Internet version, 6/11):
"Cote d'Ivoire, Liberia, Congo, the former Zaire: the pace of
French movements on the Black Continent is accelerating. In English-speaking Liberia, the French
military have emerged from their traditional private domain to come to the aid
of the foreign community trapped by the fighting in Monrovia. At the same time, an air lift is bringing in
from Entebbe, Uganda, to Bunia, in the northern Congo, over thousand French
troops under UN mandate for an international action to restore the peace. Dominique de Villepin, the brains behind this
new interest in neglected countries, plans to define France's new policy in a
speech that he is due to deliver on Friday to the Higher National Defense
Studies Institute (IHEDN.) It coincides
with Paris' return to the Great Lakes region, nine years after the tragedy in
Rwanda.... Despite these initiatives,
France refuses to be Africa's new gendarme.
Paris stresses the multilateral character of its interventions. The dispatch of troops to Ituri is portrayed
as the 'first large-scale autonomous European initiative.' Conducted jointly with Britain, Operation
Mamba sets the seal on the improvement of ties with London, following the
disagreements over Iraq. Of course, in
Africa, it enjoys the support of Congo, one of the largest French-speaking
countries, but also Uganda, the logistical rear base of the deployment, and
also, thanks to a historical change of course, the at least tacit consent of
GERMANY: "Heading For The Congo"
Armin Hampel commented on ARD-TV's (national channel one) late
evening newscast Tagesthemen (6/10):
"The families, and not only them, have the right to know for what
our troops had to die. I believe the
explanation that German interests have to be defended in the Hindu Kush is
insufficient. Who defined these
interests, the chancellor, his foreign minister? They tell us that we have to get ready for
global deployment. But what does that
mean?… We made it to East Timor already.
And now we are heading for the Congo.
By the way, the Congo and almost all crisis areas where German troops
have been deployed are former colonial territories or their spheres of
interest. The French, the Portuguese,
and particularly the British have considerable, particularly economic,
interests there. And now we are supposed
to participate in every expedition because of our solidarity with our European
partners? I don't think so.... The federal government must define German
interests very clearly: first on a national level and after coordination with
our partners, on an international level.
This is the chancellor's and the foreign minister's business. Without a clear strategy -- which we currently
don't have -- global deployment to any place in the world would indeed be
possible. If our partners base their
international policy on their national interests, we should, we must do the
same. We have to say clearly where and
for what we would be prepared to risk the life of our troops -- and where
not. If German troops become victims in
remote crisis areas more often, this will become alarmingly normal. I am not ready to accept this."
"Playing With Lives"
Richard Wagner remarked in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine
(Internet version-WWW, 6/8): "The fact that Afghanistan is a powder keg
was known long before German soldiers lost their lives as the result of a
cowardly suicide attack in Kabul on Saturday [7 June].... In such a lawless
milieu, where terrorists can move about inconspicuously, Saturday's attack may
just have been harbinger of even more evil.
What is necessary, however, is a debate about Germany's interests and a
more precise interpretation of Defense Minister Struck's statement that Germany
is also defended at the Hindu Kush. It
must be clear what a mission means -- including the death of soldiers. This
must be discussed before the country gets involved in another mission. Participating in a peacekeeping mission in
the Congo may seem inappropriate under the leadership of France, which is
trying to gain profile against the United States. And, even more, one has to ask what a
peacekeeping force can achieve in the heart of Africa, where the situation
seems to be even more confusing than in Afghanistan. These questions must be answered if the
mission is not supposed to be a game with the soldiers' lives."
"Alone With The Dictator"
Centrist Der Tagesspiegel of Berlin noted (6/6): "The
democratic opposition in Zimbabwe shows courage. Following a general strike that lasted a few
days, it called upon the pauperized people in the impoverished country to take
to the streets to protests President Mugabe.
But the aging dictator demonstrated several times before that he does
not tolerate any resistance. This means
that the situation in Zimbabwe can become dangerous.... But if violence breaks out, the people in the
country cannot expect assistance from neighboring countries or from the
West. A peace force for the Congo was
set up only when the killing reached the extent of a genocide. And Robert Mugabe knows this. The value of the new partnership between
Africa and the industrialized nations that was renewed at the G-8 summit in
Evian, will come to the fore in Zimbabwe.
The foundation stone of this partnership is the commitment of the
Africans to democracy and human rights--and that they want to remind each other
of this commitment. But no African
leader has thus far publicly criticized Mugabe.
And the Western leaders did not want to jeopardize this harmony in
Evian. That is why not too much will
change in Zimbabwe despite the protests."
"Give Up the Role As Spectator"
Christoph Link had this to say in an editorial
in left-of-center Frankfurter Rundschau (6/6): "For the EU, the
mission in the Congo is something new.
For the first time in its history, it will form an armed force without
the assistance of NATO and use it outside of Europe. With this mission, the EU could grow into a
new role: to assume responsibility by
organizing a mission under its own authority for the tormented people on a
neighboring continent, but not according to the U.S. model in Iraq, but by
strictly complying with international law....
The risks for a mission in the Congo are immense, but they should be
discussed realistically and soberly....
The greatest risk of a mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo is
that its end is not foreseeablebut the mandate must be clearly defined, since
in the long run, the Congolese themselves are responsible for their own
state.... The view has now gained the
upper hand that Africa cannot be left alone with its wars. The international community should not watch
how another genocide is beginning to develop in the province of Ituri.... Nor can it approve that a continent is
disintegrating into anarchic zones like in Somalia, Liberia, and the Congo. These dissolved nations offer possible bases
for terrorists and they are responsible for an continuous stream of refugees to
Center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine
carried this comment (6/4): "Some 4,700 UN blue-helmets are already in the
Congo, a country the size of western Europe, and yet conditions there have not
stabilized or improved. Another
force--a number of 1,400 soldiers has been mentioned--endowed with a 'robust'
mandate and led by the French should now at least prevent another war of ethnic
annihilation in north-eastern Congo.
Germany has approved the motion in the UN Security Council, and Paris
has been more or less discretely urging Germany for some time to provide
Bundeswehr forces for the mission in what is a traditionally French sphere of
influence. To a certain extent, this is
a logical consequence of the development of joint units (what about the Eurocorps?)
and the jointly declared ambition to develop a European foreign and security
policy. That is why the Bundeswehr will
hardly be able to refuse to participate in this mission, at least by providing
logistical support and technical assistance.
Whether this will bring the problems in the heart of Africa closer to a
political solution is a different question--and is rather to be doubted."
"Look To The Poor"
Anita Kecke argued in an editorial in centrist Leipziger
Volkszeitung (6/3): "Since the
Evian summit, Africa has the modest advantage of becoming the focus of the G-8
nations once a year. The promises of the
industrialized nations with respect to AIDS and the establishment of an African
peace force in Congo are important promises.
The massacres in Congo show how urgent such a force is. With respect to other important decisions
that would help get self-help for Africa, like the reduction of agricultural
subsidies in the industrialized nations, the G-8 does not make any progress. When will they finally realize that help for
the poorest in the world is not only a human commandment but is also in our
very own interest."
Centrist Der Tagesspiegel of Berlin
stated (5/30): "It is certainly
right that the UN Security Council will adopt a resolution today that will
provide for the sending of 1,000 additional blue helmets to Congo...but a
second Srebrenica can be prevented only if the mandate of the blue helmets is
'robust' enough.... Regardless of
whether it is Bosnia or Burnia, a UN force can be effective only if acts on
site and prevents violence. And those
who vehemently demand this should also be wiling to take part in such dangerous
missions. But for Defense Minister
Struck such a mission is 'out of the question.'
But if not today, when?"
"Test Case For Europe"
Left-of-center Frankfurter Rundschau
(5/23) noted: "The international community should not again idly watch a
massacre in the Congo. UN
Secretary-General is calling for a 'coalition of the willing' that stops the
slaughter. France and Britain have signaled
their willingness to side with the weak blue helmet force by sending
interventionist forces. Belgium is
willing to offer military logistics, and Germany offers financial assistance. It is time; it is a test case for
"Test Case Congo"
Times Deutschland of Hamburg (5/22) opined: “UN Secretary General Kofi
Annan’s request to the EU has exerted pressure on the European Union. One week after the Congolese call for help,
the EU must decide on sending peacekeeping forces to the region. At issue is preventing a genocide. In addition, its engagement is a question of
credibility. Only if the EU proves that
it is able to resolve conflicts like the one in Congo, can it play a greater
role in international politics. But thus
far, the EU reaction only reveals deficiencies in its defense policy. EU Defense Commissioner Solana signaled the
EU’s willingness to take over responsibility, but it is totally unclear where
the necessary military capacities should come from.... The Europeans do not have any time. Over the past weeks, more than 300 people
were killed…and 60,000 were displaced….
In the past, European nations and companies accepted political instability
in their attempts to gain access to raw material. It is now up to them to prevent the worst.”
RUSSIA: "A Typical Coup"
Commenting on Mauritania, Igor Tarutin stated in reformist Vremya
Novostey (6/10): "It is a typical coup d'etat, whatever the
implications. It is not new to
Africa. The trouble is that there have
been too many of them in recent years."
BELGIUM: "The Future Of EU Defense at Stake
Wim Van de Velde judged in financial De
Financieel-Economische Tijd (6/6): “If the risky Artemis operation fails,
it is not only the Congolese peace process that one can forget about, but the
construction of European Defense is also likely to be delayed for
years.... One of the main drawbacks of
this operation lies in the limited mandate that binds the EU troops. They can
only secure the city of Bunia. If massacres take place outside of the city
walls, they are not allowed to intervene, something that, with TV cameras in
the area, can lead to dramatic images. That is the most efficient manner to
make the EU force slink, as the 1994 Rwanda genocide demonstrated.”
IRELAND: "France Declines Offer Of Irish
Troops For Peacekeeping In Congo"
Lara Marlowe remarked in the center-left Irish
Times (Internet version 6/11):
"Had France accepted Ireland's offer, the Chief of Staff would have
dispatched a reconnaissance team to Bunia, and the decision would have required
endorsement by the Government and the Dail [lower house of the Irish Parliament]. The third requirement, for a UN mandate, was
fulfilled when the Security Council voted resolution 1484 at the end of
May. Ireland may be fortunate not to
have been included in the force, which is plunging into a conflict considered
as intractable as the Hutu genocide against hundreds of thousands of Tutsis in
1994. The warring militias in the Congo
are often high on drugs, exploit child soldiers and engage in cannibalism....
The deployment in the Congo marks the first EU peacekeeping operation outside
Europe. Some have seen the EU's
involvement as a sort of consolation prize to Mr Javier Solana, the
representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, who has been crowded
out of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations by Washington. "It's very much a French operation with
token political and military participation by a few others," an Irish
The center-left Irish Times maintained
(5/26): "At long last, more
international attention is being paid to the horrendously violent war in the
Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire).... There have been calls for a
United Nations force to separate the antagonists and enforce and verify a
ceasefire.... As central authority
collapsed each of these armies created proxy forces among Congolese tribes and
peoples. The conflict has been deepened by the country's wealth, with gold,
diamonds, oil and copper in plentiful supply.... One dire scenario is that, left to itself,
the present fighting could indeed deteriorate into another genocide.... The existing UN force has looked on
helplessly at much of the latest fighting. It has neither the mandate, troops
nor capacity to enforce peace or protect civilians. A UN request for extra troops made last
December has virtually collapsed for lack of international response, fully
reflecting central Africa's geopolitical irrelevance for the world's most
powerful states embroiled in the Iraq war.
More attention can and must be paid to this conflict. Ireland should be
willing to look sympathetically at this latest request for troops, mindful of
our involvement there after the country became independent from Belgium in 1960
and of Roger Casement's exposé of Belgian colonial exploitation 40 years
An editorial in the center-left Irish Times
held (5/21): "Increasing speculation in southern Africa suggests the
diplomatic efforts of South Africa, Nigeria, and Malawi, whose leaders have
been applying pressure to Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe, may yet bear fruit. If they do result in the 'voluntary'
retirement...a multinational aid package may then be forthcoming from the
international community to help the famine-ravaged country. It could not come a
day too soon. Mr Mugabe's brutal and
ill-judged land reform has plunged nearly two-thirds of the country's 11.6
million people into hunger and left a million agricultural workers
jobless.... Mr Mugabe's rigged
re-election last year--its corruption attested to by the Commonwealth--has been
sustained only through the brutal suppression of oppositionists.... Such methods have been accompanied by
attempts to muzzle the local and international press.... It is, they say, darkest before the dawn. The
authorities' open defiance of the vestiges of the rule of law is a sign of
desperation, a final card from a regime whose sell-by date has passed."
"Artemis Is Flying; Will The Mission In The Congo Divide The EU And
Robert Soltyk filed from Brussels in leading,
center-left Gazeta Wyborcza (6/5):
"In order to stop tribal warfare, as soon as this coming weekend
France may send to the Congo its troops, an outpost of an EU mission.... The UN Security Council adopted a resolution
on the matter on 30 May. Yesterday the
EU Political-Military Committee approved of the mission, and ambassadors of the
EU 15 were to do the same yesterday evening (Poland was an observer). British Prime Minister Tony Blair voiced
doubts whether plans for the mission were at a sufficiently advanced stage.... [This paper's] sources at NATO voiced
'profound surprise' that the alliance, with which the EU had pledged to
coordinate peacekeeping missions, had been slightly taken aback on the
Congolese mission and put before accomplished facts. Allegedly, this particularly angered the
Americans, who stated off the record at a session of heads of NATO foreign
affairs ministries in Madrid that 'the time had not come yet' to hand the
peacekeeping mission in Bosnia over to the EU in 2004, which France wants so
much. This is a serious blow to the
EU's political ambitions in security affairs as well a warning that the United
States will not allow itself to be excluded from them in Europe."
CANADA: "Bad News From
The centrist Winnipeg Free Press commented (6/9): "The
UN may have a role to play in solving the Congo's problems, but it is clear
that the civil war will not end until other African nations - the Congo's
neighbours in particular - make it clear that Africa itself will not tolerate
this war. It is perhaps a measure of how cruel the situation in Africa is that,
despite the fact that about 3.5 million people have died as a result of the
civil war in the Congo in the last four years, it is not today number one on
the list of international concerns about Africa. The crisis in Zimbabwe perhaps
gets the number one spot, with the civil war in Liberia claiming number two
with a bullet. In both those countries, the world is witnessing dictatorial
governments in their death throes. The death throes, however, are as different
as the dictators.... Canada and other western nations can play only small roles
in determining the outcome of events in these countries. It is Africa itself
that wields the power to tilt the balance in favour of democracy or to a
different dictatorship. But until Africa as a whole decides to choose democracy
and isolate and overthrow its dictators, old school or new, then the news from
that continent will continue to be, always, bad.”
"Getting Rid Of Mugabe"
The leading Globe and Mail opined (5/8): "The trio of
influential African presidents [Presidents Obasanjo and Mbeki, joined by
Malawi's Bakili Muluzi] vow to continue their quiet diplomacy. But they will
get nowhere until Mr. Mugabe recognizes that his only option is voluntary exile.
It is vital that this intervention succeed, both to stabilize an explosive
situation and to prevent the deepening humanitarian crisis from spilling over
Zimbabwe's borders and turning into yet another regional disaster."
"Zimbabwe's Ugly Fin De Régime"
Foreign affairs columnist Gordon Barthos editorialized in the
liberal Toronto Star (5/8): "[P]ressure is building for a
negotiated resolution to Zimbabwe's worst political and economic crisis since
independence in 1980. U.S. President George Bush and British Prime Minister
Tony Blair are pushing for 'regime change.' So is the Commonwealth, which
suspended Zimbabwe in 2002 after Mugabe's supporters narrowly stole the
presidential election from Tsvangirai through murder, intimidation and
fraud.... The only way forward is for Mugabe to agree to bow out early, so that
some transitional power-sharing arrangement can be struck between Zanu-PF and
the MDC leading to early, credible, internationally supervised elections. But
that will require regional politicians to crank up the pressure, something they
have been reluctant to do.... That Mugabe, at 79, is doing such terrible damage
is a tragedy. For the country. For him. Some still hail Comrade President as
one of the nation's liberators. But their voices grow fainter with every
"Zimbabwe Descends Into Total Chaos"
Edmonton Sun columnist Paul Stanway wrote in the conservative
tabloid Ottawa Sun (5/8):
"The odious Robert Mugabe, the aging president of Zimbabwe, appears
to be yet another despot hoping to benefit from the all-consuming attention
paid by media and diplomats to the war in Iraq. Like his pal Fidel Castro,
Mugabe used the world's preoccupation with Iraq to launch a blatant attack on
political opposition.... If Mugabe's prepared to go (it's a big if), the real
carrot would be a promise that he can keep all or most of the estimated $1
billion he has managed to steal from his impoverished country and stash in the
U.S. and Europe. It would be a sordid but plausible end to a sordid