The UN and Zimbabwe...
Claudia Rosett on the latest UN report on Zimbabwe...
To whatever extent the recent United Nations report on Zimbabwe calls attention to the brutalities of the country's tyrant, President Robert Mugabe, the U.N. has performed a service. But as far as the report translates into nothing more than a fresh bout of aid funneled via Mugabe's regime, this U.N. initiative will only compound the suffering in Zimbabwe--where the government's latest atrocity has been to "clean up" the cities by evicting hundreds of thousands of poor people, destroying their dwellings and leaving them jobless, homeless and hungry.
In describing this scene, the U.N. report provides a wealth of horrifying detail, but takes a detour around the basic cause, which is not, as the report concludes, such stuff as "improper advice" acted upon by "over-zealous officials." The real cause is the long and ruinous rule of Mugabe and his cronies.
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."
Apart from the problem, not mentioned in the U.N. report's comment, that after a quarter-century of Mugabe's rule the surviving Zimbabwe elite are to a great extent Mugabe's own cronies, there is the profound difficulty that in Zimbabwe's state-choked economy, Mugabe has a record of diverting foreign aid to his supporters, while starving--as well as mugging and murdering--his opposition. Aid workers themselves in recent years have lamented the difficulty of channeling aid in Zimbabwe to the intended beneficiaries. The danger with any massive, not to mentioned "sustainable" humanitarian response, is that it will most likely translate into sustainability of Mugabe's regime (generating hefty fees along the way for any U.N. agencies involved).