Wednesday, July 23, 2008



By Jerry Okungu
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
July 23, 2008

Just the other day, world television screens were awash with Mugabe militia chasing his opponents like wild animals across the savannahs and shrub lands of Zimbabwe. These fleeing desperados were not aliens in Zimbabwe and neither were they Zimbabwean wild life. They were bona fide citizens of that country. They were fleeing for their lives because they were suspected to be opposed to Mugabe’s continued presidency.

In our characteristic fashion, we condemned Mugabe left and right and even commended Morgan Tzvangirai for boycotting a repeat of the elections and taking refuge inside some foreign embassy. At that time we were almost certain that Mugabe had reached a dead end. And with voices of reason condemning Mugabe from Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Zambia, we breathed a sigh of relief that at last some African leaders had seen the light and castigated one of their own.

All went well until Mugabe ran against himself, declared himself winner within hours, and like Mwai Kibaki got sworn in within minutes of the predetermined results! But Mugabe had to better the Kibaki feat. He remembered that he needed the endorsement of the entire AU club that was meeting in some Egyptian resort. He got into his jet and arrived there just in time for the Heads of State Summit. As the galaxy of African leaders marched to the conference hall, Uncle Bob was a proud member among equals! He confidently took his place of honor and even had the audacity to address that august gathering!

Like Robert Mugabe, President Omar El Bashir has been carrying out a systematic genocide in the Darfur area of Sudan since his expansionist war in the South ended in disaster four years ago. With three hundred thousand civilians massacred and another two million persons rendered homeless, he is the kind of leader that under normal circumstances would not be recognized by any country in Africa let alone the world. Yet, President El Bashir is a proud member of the prestigious AU with a real possibility of chairing the Union one day.

In my opinion, Mugabe is today in power because Africa no longer has a Nyerere among its leaders. The atrocities Mugabe’s regime has meted out on its people would have been enough for an African Military force to invade Zimbabwe and ship its leaders out to The Hague or Arusha for crimes against humanity.

The human catastrophe that El Bashir has engineered and managed in Darfur and Southern Sudan are enough to send him to The Hague to stand trial for crimes against humanity. Between Mugabe and Bashir, the two African leaders have killed more people than Idi Amin, Serbians and Americans have killed in Uganda, Afghanistan, Serbia and Iraq. If Americans have waged a war of invasion in Afghanistan and Iraq, Mugabe and Bashir, like their predecessor Idi Amin, have turned their guns on their helpless, unarmed civilian soft targets. The more reason they qualify to head for The Hague or Arusha Tribunal.

Now that Mugabe has agreed to negotiate power sharing arrangements with Tzvangirai, we seem to be breathing an air of relief as if that is the solution to the Zimbabwean crisis. In embracing this dialogue, what Africa and the UN are telling Zimbabweans is that those who died for democracy in that country died in vain. They didn’t have to die for Morgan or MDC because all MCD needed to do was to share power with Uncle Bob. If that were so, then why did we prod Tzvangirai to run against Mugabe knowing well that all MCD needed was to share power? Why didn’t they make this arrangement earlier to avoid uncalled for loss of human life?

The situation gets even more pathetic when it comes to El Bashir. This is the man who has defied all international counseling when it comes to Darfur. He has even killed AU and UN Peace Keeping forces there. He has ordered his soldiers to bomb and burn villages without provocation. He has used unnecessary force to quell imaginary rebellion. Yet, when the International Court of Justice finally indicts him, we African leaders are the first ones to condemn the court for unfairly indicting this murderer!

How many more innocent Africans must die in Mugabe’s name before we act? How many more Africans must be murdered by Bashir before we wake up to the human tragedy? How many more women and children must be raped, maimed and murdered in the deserts of Darfur and Matabeleland before this continent stirs!