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November 18, 2003

Zimbabwe's Rising Inflation

The living conditions for the majority in Zimbabwe must be approaching "hell."

Inflation in Zimbabwe rose more than 70 points last month and now stands at a record annual rate of 525.8%, the government said today.

Figures released by the central statistical offices showed that  the annual rate of inflation rose from 455.6% in September to  525.8% in October.

Read the rest.

Posted by zombyboy at 11:16 AM | Comments (3)

November 17, 2003

A Blog About Africa

Christian Science Monitor has an Africa Blog of their own. This was their very first post on October 30:

We've packed the essentials from our Boston condo - my wife's DVDs and onion salt, my omelette pan and rocking chair - and we're headed off on a big adventure. We're moving to Johannesburg, South Africa, for The Christian Science Monitor. I'll be reporting on the 49 countries of sub-Saharan Africa.

Jen is the real adventurer, though: She's never been to a developing country. And now we're moving to a continent full of them!

My overarching questions for reporting on Africa include: Can Africa - or parts of it - join the world's rush to globalization and greater wealth? Who should solve Africa's problems - outsiders or Africans themselves? And what can the rest of the world learn from Africa?

So come along as two American kids head off with not a lot of knowledge - but tons of curiosity - about our 800 million new African neighbors.

Check back once in a while for weekly blurbs about life on a grand continent....

I have a feeling that this will be worth reading. CSM maintains a consistently excellent standard of writing; even when I find myself disagreeing with their writers' conclusions, I find myself stretching my mind.

What a wonderful development. I'll note just a tiny bit of jealousy. If I had the opportunity, I would do the same as this couple.

Check it out.

Posted by zombyboy at 02:12 PM | Comments (0)

November 13, 2003

Why Zimbabwe?

I've been saying for a while that armed rebellion is just around the corner for Zimbabwe--and it could be as bloody a civil war as the region has seen. It seems that the ruling Zanu-PF party is starting to hear the grumbling, too. The harder Mugabe pushes the people, the more likely is rebellion; the more South Africa and the West ignore the problem, the more likely is rebellion.

"If Mugabe refuses to go, the ZFM [Zimbabwe Freedom Movement] will remove him and his cronies by force," reads a statement signed by national commander Charles Black Mamba and deputy national commanders Ntuthuko Fezela and Daniel Ingwe.

Mr Tatchell said the ZFM was being formed because "all opportunities and possibilities for peaceful democratic change have been closed down".

There is likely still a window of opportunity for Mugabe to enact reforms, and there is certainly a window for South African leadership and the UN to pressure Mugabe to do so. A civil war will most certainly lay waste to a nation that has already been devastated by disastrous economic policy, drought, and its own suicidal farm policies.

Of course, a civil war might also lead to freedom from the regime that brought on all those bad policies and rules through increasingly illegitimate means.

There is a reasonable question to be asked about focusing on Zimbabwe while other countries are so desperately in need. My answer to that is that, given attention and effort now, Zimbabwe may not need to turn into another Congo. "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" may simply be a cliche, but there is quite a bit of truth to the words.

The cost of allowing Zimbabwe to slip into a civil war are the money that will be spent by humanitarian aid groups who will shoulder the majority of the cost of feeding and caring for the citizens of the nation. The cost will be in lives and blood. The cost could be the creation of another haven for international terrorism in a destitute country.

These are high costs on both pragmatic and moral levels.

Read the rest of the story.

Posted by zombyboy at 11:44 AM | Comments (11)

November 11, 2003

Uganda Plea for Help

The UN is asking member nations to increase humanitarian aid to Uganda. The country, as ravaged by war as any other African nation, and more fully depleted than most, is another of that continent's failures. The question, as with most of Africa, is whether the member nations will respond, and what response is appropriate.

Speaking in Nairobi following a two-day visit to northern Uganda, [Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs] Egeland said the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) planned to launch the appeal on 19 November, when it would urge donors to increase funding for humanitarian aid.

"This is not a war in which the population is affected by the collateral damage. It is a war which is directed against the civilian population and children," Egeland said. "How can we live with a situation where nearly 1,000 children are being abducted every month to become killing machines."

Egeland, who described the situation in northern Uganda as the "world's biggest, neglected, ignored" humanitarian crisis, also lamented the lack of humanitarian access for the displaced population, which he said had reached 1.3 million. He pledged to help increase the humanitarian presence of UNOCHA and other UN agencies in the region.

Certainly an increase in humanitarian aid is a good thing, but the root of the problem is in the war itself. The UN--and, more importantly, other African nations--need to consider what kind of a direct intervention could help to end the struggle.

The article I reference goes on to describe the life of one of the young boys forcibly recruited to fight for the rebel LRA.

Patrick [the 13 year old boy] described to the delegation how he was forced to kill one of his commander's bodyguards and sit on the body before cutting up victims of an LRA assault and putting them in a large cooking pot.

What is the appropriate international response to that image of a boy forced to be a soldier? Shot three times in the leg and rescued from his captors, he's one of the lucky ones.

Read the story.

Posted by zombyboy at 01:09 PM | Comments (1)

November 05, 2003

Do You Enjoy Your Freedom?

During a small protest in Pretoria, the question a protester asked of South African President Mbeki was quite simple, according to the independent news outlet, IOL.

"Mr Mbeki, Sir, do you enjoy your freedom? If so, please help us to get ours too."

The protest was aimed at applying pressure to the South African government to do more to help oust Robert Mugabe from power in neighboring Zimbabwe. Despite Mbeki's assurances to President Bush, the soft diplomatic approach championed by South Africa hasn't resulted in anything resembling reforms or real talks about reform in Zimbabwe.

Instead, the situation grows steadily towards a government collapse and possible civil war as more than 2 million people will need to be fed by international aid this year.

Yes, Mr. Mbeki, what will you do to help the people of Zimbabwe find freedom from Robert Mugabe?

Read the story.

Posted by zombyboy at 01:39 PM | Comments (0)
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