Obi Egbuna

UNITED NATIONS ( – The UN World Food Program (WFP) has appealed for “urgent” donations of at least $118 million to feed about 3.3 million Zimbabweans, who, according to the world body would be “facing food shortages over the next eight months.”

“Hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans are already starting to run out of food and several million more will be reliant on humanitarian assistance by the end of the year,” stated Amir Abdulla, WFP’s regional director for Southern Africa in a news release on Aug. 1. “WFP plans to feed more than 10 times the current number of beneficiaries over the next eight months to avert the threat of widespread hunger, but to do this we need more donations–and we need them immediately,” cautioned Mr. Abdulla.

UNICEF reports that almost one-third of Zimbabwean children are stunted by malnutrition.


Critics of Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe, 83, blame him for destroying the food supply of the nation once referred to as the “breadbasket of Africa.” Robert Rotberg of the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government, during a briefing session for the U.S. Peace Institute, stated that the “Mugabe regime was basically starving its own people.”

On July 23, former UN secretary-general, Kofi Annan, while delivering the annual Nelson Mandela Lecture in Johannesburg said, “Zimbabwe’s downward spiral was intolerable and unsustainable.”

In an op-ed piece in Kurier, published in Vienna, on July 26, the writer quotes a German political scientist, Stefan Mair, who is connected to the Stifung Wissenschaft und Politik (Foundation of Science and Politics) in Berlin, who believes that the situation will not change under the regime of Mr. Mugabe. Mr. Mair concludes that a solution was only possible “from within the country,” and he raises the question “how much longer the second-string politicians in the country would wait before they performed a coup d’etat.”

Most recently, Michelle D. Gavin, an International Affairs Fellow at the Council for Foreign Relations writes: “Only clear political change and an internationally-backed stabilization program can remedy the situation” in Zimbabwe.

“We know that in relationship to Zimbabwe, humanitarian aid is being used as a political weapon,” writes Obi Egbuna a member of the Washington, D.C.-based Pan African Liberation Organization and the Zimbabwe/Cuba Friendship Organization.

Mr. Egbuna’s argument is supported by just a single line in an op-ed in the Financial Times on Aug. 8, by Sir Malcolm Rifkind, a former British minister of state for Africa and foreign secretary: “There is little the rest of the world can do to hasten Mr. Mugabe’s downfall.”

Charles Cobb, noted journalist, issued a warning as far back as 2002, in an article on Zimbabwe for “The U.S. government is plotting to use the Southern African nation’s mounting food crisis as a pretext for interferring and perhaps even invading Zimbabwe.”

Mr. Egbuna reminds us that U.S. interference had already begun with the passage of the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of 2001, which allows the U.S. to direct international financial institutions to vote against any extensions of loans or credit to the government; and should not allow any reduction of Zimbabwe’s international debt.

The bill also slapped personal sanctions against Mr. Mugabe, members of his cabinet, his service chiefs and their immediate family members, because of “crimes against humanity.”

“I hope the provisions of this important legislation will support the people of Zimbabwe in their struggle to effect peaceful democratic change, achieve economic growth and restore the rule of law,” stated Pres. George W. Bush, as he signed the bill.

Former Georgia representative, Cynthia McKinney, on Dec 4, 2001, during an International Relations Committee meeting stated, “when we get right down to it, this legislation is nothing more than a declaration of U.S. complicity in a program to maintain White-skin privilege. It is racist and against the interests of the masses of Zimbabweans.”

“Americans should explore other ways of improving the living conditions of Zimbabweans. This act is a sign of existing satanic attitudes towards Zimbabwe. External forces such as the U.S. and Britain should provide constructive ideas and solutions,” stated the Zimbabwe National Debate Assoc.

Mr. Egbuna says that the two nations have yet to heed the advice of the debate group. “Instead the food issue is used to divert attention away from Zimbabwe’s positive achievements in the areas of health, education and women’s empowerment. The government and ruling party have taken very critical steps to deal with the basic needs of the people, insists Mr. Egbuna. “One can monitor the national economic development priority program of 2006, which none of the human rights groups like Amnesty International or Human Rights Watch want to acknowledge as not only a bold measure to bring economic relief during challenging times, but also as a measure taken to empower the people, because Pres. Mugabe always said the essence of our nationhood is the people,” notes Mr. Egbuna.

He also said the two western powers were angry at Mr. Mugabe for not accepting their invitation to have Zimbabwe designated as an LDC (Least Developed Country). “The 37 African countries who were convinced that this was the path to economic prosperity and political stability have absolutely nothing to show for it,” Mr. Egbuna stressed.

Mr. Mugabe instead chose to look East to China for help. “The look East policy was another step taken to boost the economy, with the long-term significance being a concrete example of how Africans and Asians, who share a common history can form and maintain a principled alliance to break European imperialism’s economic grip” on the two continents, argues Mr. Egbuna.

And so, Mr. Mugabe continues to be threatened by the West. “The U.S. should strengthen its existing sanctions against Zimbabwe and press other nations and international organizations to ratchet up pressure on Mugabe and his supporters,” writes Brett D. Schaefer, a Jay Kingham Fellow on International Regulatory Freedom for the Heritage Foundation.

But, the octogenarian leader continues to fight back. On Aug. 6, during a speech at the Langkawi International Dialogue in Malaysia, he slammed the media for bias against poor nations, according to the Associated Press. He told a group of press representatives that their reports are “quite often deliberately intended to tarnish and mislead.”

“Should journalists really indulge in what they know to be deliberately misleading stories, and therefore stories that go against objectivity and the truth?” Mr. Mugabe asked, according to AP.