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Zimbabwe's leader tightens his iron grip on the country


Published: Sat, September 3, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.


Some 4 million citizens of the southern African nation of Zimbabwe are in urgent need of food aid, but President Robert Mugabe, true to form, shows little concern for the fate of the people. Instead, Mugabe continues to tighten his corrupt dictatorial grip on the crumbling nation by pushing through laws designed to neutralize his political enemies and silence any other dissent.
As we have pointed out on several occasions in the past couple of years, Zimbabweans, especially the very young and the elderly, are in desperate need of help from the international community. But other than strong words from the United States and other industrialized nations, there has been no effort made to either remove Mugabe from power or shackle him so he can no longer continue his rein of terror.
Threats of economic sanctions by the United Nations simply play into his hands. Since he took power more than 25 years ago, he has blamed the country's former colonial power, Britain, and other western nations, led by the United States, for the economy's collapse.
Unfortunately, the largely illiterate populace knows no better.
The president has also solidified his position by making sure that his supporters are rewarded with money stolen from the treasury or with gifts of thousands of white-owned commercial farms illegally confiscated.
These once thriving farms are now barren because the individuals who took over from the experience white farmers lack the know-how and the financial wherewithal to keep them productive.
Thus, starvation is spreading.
Iron grip
But Mugabe remains undaunted. He keeps coming up with ways to strengthen his iron grip on power.
His latest move is a poke in the eye for the international community. Lawmakers in Zimbabwe endorsed a constitution developed by the president and his inner circle that sharply restricts property rights and allows the government to deny passports to its critics.
Local and international lawyers have described the amendments as the greatest challenge yet to civil liberties.
So, how does the Mugabe's thugs respond? Here's what Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa said: "[The constitution would] close the chapter of colonization."
By blaming the colonial powers, Mugabe and other corrupt African leaders have diverted attention from their failed governance.
It is clear that the African Union is unwilling to take a leadership role in bringing about regime change in Zimbabwe and other countries where the leaders have caused the deaths of millions of people through violence, starvation and disease. The United Nations must step in.
The world cannot live with the shame of another Rwanda, where tribal wars resulted in more than a million people being killed.


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