Tuesday 24 June 2008

Zimbabwe - what's John Simpson on?

Mugabe's remarkable comeback is the headline of a piece which leads me to believe that John Simpson must have forgotten his medication. His theme is that Mugabe was nearly dead and buried a few weeks ago but has "remarkably" returned to life. He has apparently achieved "an extraordinary turnaround". THere's nothing either remarkable or extraordinary about the situation at all. The only calculation in the minds of Mugabe and his henchmen is how much violence they could get away with, and whether they could afford to pay all the thugs. They concluded rightly that a gradually escalating scale of violence, together with police harassment and judicial intimidation would work nicely without upsetting other Africans too much. If anything is remarkable, it is the lengths to which other African leaders will still go, even today, to say that he's not too bad really.

Simpson then royally plonks his other foot in it when he criticises Tsangirai for choosing the Dutch embassy to take refuge in. It would have been better politically, Simpson says, for him to choose an African embassy. No doubt it would have, but that sort of calculation may not occur to you when you're fleeing soldiers, no doubt in fear for your life, and it's damn difficult to get a taxi in Harare at that time of night...

What's extraordinary is Britain's impotence - a real lesson to those who still think we stride the world's stage like a colossus, and the dithering of the rest of Africa while Zimbabwe falls into complete collapse. I have great respect for John Simpson as a reporter. I can only hope that he will rise again from the standard he has fallen to with this piece.

1 comment:

methel said...

But at least now Botswana has finally made acomment - a long way to go and late in the day but it is a start : http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/7484996.stm