Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor


Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor


Article excerpt

Sanctions for Zimbabwe would only harm struggling people

Regarding Robert I. Rotberg's Dec. 4 Opinion piece, "Commonwealth snub of Mugabe a good start on regime change": I, too, would like to see President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa condemn President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe outright.

But I question the suggestion that South Africa could cut off electricity and petrol to Zimbabwe. This would bring even more suffering to the people of Zimbabwe. Sanctions were valid in South Africa during apartheid because a significant movement which credibly represented the people asked for them. This is not the case when it comes to cutting off power to Zimbabwe - we have heard no calls from credible people representing the masses for this action.

I have family in Zimbabwe, so I have reason to know just how bad the suffering in that country is. Mandi Kraft Johannesburg, South Africa

While I generally agree with the premise that President Mugabe brought this "ban" upon himself based on perceptions of internal lawlessness, a point needs to be made that there is a racial component to the Zimbabwe issue.

Although I have been opposed to Mr. Mugabe since the days of the massacres in Matabeleland, his program of redistribution of land to the people should never be seen as insignificant. Many Mugabe opponents got on the bandwagon and resurrected previous issues of human rights (on which they were silent for many years). If land had been taken away from black farmers, no such outcries would be heard.

To accuse President Mbeki of South Africa of failing to challenge Mugabe is to deny him the right to interpret events in his region independently. Most nonwhite members of the Commonwealth are opposed to Mugabe's exclusion.

Yes, pressure has been exerted on President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria but that does not mean that he agrees with Britain and Australia, the biggest Mugabe critics.

Despite being politically opposed to Mugabe, I support his land- reform program 100 percent. I support his courage to stand up against neocolonialism. …

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