-Guest Columnist-

How beguiled will we allow ourselves to be by politically-inspired media campaigns and continue a humanitarian crisis? Zimbabwe’s government declared a national emergency and pleads for international help to combat the cholera epidemic. The ravished country is receiving help from its neighbors in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) which Western powers and media have labeled them as “stooges” to Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe.

As the treatable intestinal infection rages ahead, Zimbabwe’s SADC neighbors have sent medical teams and equipment to treat the affected. A world away, people who actually provoked the epidemic with devastating economic sanctions declare Zimbabwe “a failed state” and argued for military action. In place of good works toward Zimbabwe’s people, Western Powers’ media paints a picture that the problem is politically-based clamor that “Mugabe must go”. The media hegemony causes patently false portraits to be presented to, and believed by Westerners, who, accordingly, acquiesce to, if not enthusiastically support, imperialist intervention to “bring democracy and reform” to that benighted land.

As they cry crocodile tears over “cholera in Zimbabwe,” the U.S. and her European Union and Australian allies see their plot to remove Pres. Mugabe from power gaining momentum. Make no mistake about it, the decline and erosion of Mugabe is the result of financial sanctions imposed by the West. Draconian Western acts that devastated Zimbabwe’s socio-economic structure, not Mugabe, caused the flight of doctors, nurses and other key sector workers.


It’s the sanctions stupid! The cholera can be contained by eliminating the contaminated water and food stuffs. But, the West and its media play to the Movement for Democratic Change’s (MDC) opposition party and call the situation “a struggle for liberty”. It’s a smokescreen in which the MDC merely are pawns. The cholera and the country’s collapse is the result of sustained financial sanctions by the U.S., the EU and Australia to effect regime change using the MDC as medium. The reason: Mugabe’s seizure of White-owned farms and the threats this posed in southern Africa and elsewhere to private property rights and international investments.

Southern Africans know the truth of the matter. Cholera is just the latest challenge to hit poverty-wracked Zimbabwe, but Western news reporters use the crisis to portray President Mugabe as a despot bent on stupidly driving his nation into starvation and economic disaster as benevolent U.S. and British leaders benignly call for “democracy and human rights”. Southern Africans are concerned about cholera in Zimbabwe; Westerners are “at the ready” to rid the world of Mugabe. Our “concern” for democracy and human rights is selective. Even though Zimbabwe has a functioning multiparty system, President Bush and Prime Minister Brown seek to impose Western-funded MDC head Morgan Tsvangirai as president.

Initially resilient, continued blockade from international financial markets and divestment has destroyed Zimbabwe’s economy and the vestiges of all it achieved after independence in 1980. With its economy shrinking dramatically over recent decades, Zimbabwe’s hospitals have no medicine or equipment to treat patients, and lack money to pay health care workers or clean the water supply. The country’s health minister says, “Our central hospitals are literally not functioning”. In contrast, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown declares: “Mugabe’s failed state is no longer willing or capable of protecting its people”.

If the Western nations wanted to help Zimbabwe’s people they could be real humanitarians and drop the bellicose sanctions. It is delusional to pretend that Western sanctions target and impact only Mugabe and his inner circle. Sanctions have wrought: Loss of thousands of lives needlessly directly due to collapse of health delivery systems. The country’s social fabric has been torn apart by sanctions-exacerbated poverty and emigration. Sanctions block finance, credit facilities, and debt rescheduling by Zimbabwe. Unemployment is 80 percent, companies have folded, and the peoples’ savings and pensions have been eviscerated by inflation.

It’s not humane to carry out a coup in Zimbabwe, not even in the name of cholera. We are wrong to root for Mugabe’s removal from power if it’s on the backs of millions of ordinary Zimbabweans’ challenged by financial sanctions.