Seeing the trees, missing the forest
Religion & Liberty Online

Seeing the trees, missing the forest

The United Nations has released a report on the ongoing upheavals in Zimbabwe, where tyrant Robert Mugabe has been punishing his political opponents under the guise of “cleaning up” the country’s cities. The effect of Operation Murambatsvina (meaning either “Operation Restore Order” or “Operation Drive Out Trash,” depending on who’s translation you believe) has been to leave some 700,000 people homeless, jobless, or both. A downloadable copy of the UN report is available here.

While the report does illuminate the brutality that has been going on for the last two months or so in the African nation, Claudia Rosett notes in today’s Wall Street Journal that the UN offers only one solution to the problem: more international aid:

With a delicacy over-zealously inappropriate in itself to dealings with the tyrant whose regime has been responsible for wreck of Zimbabwe, the report starts by thanking Mr. Mugabe for his “warm welcome” to the U.N. delegation, which visited the country from June 26 to July 8. The report, issued by the secretary-general’s special envoy Anna Kajumulo Tibaijuka, then proceeds to the usual U.N. prescription that what Zimbabwe needs is more aid, and a framework–here comes the UN lingo–“to ensure the sustainability of humanitarian response.” While the report also calls for the “culprits” to be called to justice under Zimbabwe laws, Mugabe himself is somehow excused from direct responsibility.

Instead, the report faults wealthy nations for not providing more aid already, and notes that “With respect to the funding issue, some in the Zimbabwe political elite and intelligentsia, as well as others of similar persuasion around the continent, believe the international community is concerned more with ‘regime change’ and that there is no real and genuine concern for the welfare of ordinary people.”

Somehow it doesn’t seem to occur to the UN and ‘others of similar persuasion’ that the desire for ‘regime change’ in Zimbabwe is directly related to a genuine concern for the welfare of ordinary people. In fact, those ordinary people that the UN professes so much concern for have themselves expressed a desire for ‘regime change’ in two consecutive elections, only to see their votes nullified by the rampant corruption of the Mugabe government.

The situation seems ripe for another UN failure. In fact, today’s Boston Globe notes that Mugabe is continuing his disastrous “clean-up” operation:

Government authorities demolished huts and evicted people west of the capital yesterday, witnesses said, defying UN demands to halt the much condemned urban renewal program that the world body says has left 700,000 people homeless or without a job…

…The government authorities came at night, beat people, and burned huts at Porta Farm, a settlement the government set up in 1991 to house 3,000 squatters so that they would not be seen by visiting Queen Elizabeth II of Britain, a witness said. The number of inhabitants has grown to 30,000 in the past 14 years.

Thousands of people were told they have to move to rural areas, said the witness, who asked not to be identified for fear of reprisals.

For more insights on the current state of affairs, visit This is Zimbabwe.