One month after Zimbabwe elections: UN refuses to act

Give Robert Mugabe some credit — he really has tried to manipulate the election results from a month ago, but despite all his efforts, he still can’t find a way to declare himself the winner. Mugabe has tried the next best thing, though, in unleashing his security forces against Zimbabweans to terrorize them into inertia. Human Rights Watch warns that Zimbabwe has descended into the final stages of brutal dictatorship, while the world twiddles its thumbs:

A leading human rights group accused Zimbabwe’s army Wednesday of working with ruling party militants to unleash “terror and violence” against dissent.

New York-based Human Rights Watch joined other rights groups and Zimbabwe’s opposition party in linking violence since last month’s presidential vote to the security forces and so-called “war veterans” — groups loyal to autocratic President Robert Mugabe.

Mugabe’s regime has countered that the opposition groups are responsible for the violence, even arresting scores of people last week, including women and their nursing babies, who the opposition says had taken shelter from the violence at its headquarters in Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital. …

“The army and its allies — ‘war-veterans’ and supporters of the ruling party Zanu-PF — are intensifying their brutal grip on wide swathes of rural Zimbabwe to ensure that a possible second round of presidential elections goes their way,” Georgette Gagnon, Africa director at Human Rights Watch, said in the group’s statement released Wednesday.

The UN Security Council has become the latest thumb-twiddler in this debacle. The MDC asked the UNSC to take some action to end Mugabe’s brutality and to get the election results released. Just as with the SADC, South Africa argued against action, apparently led by Thabo Mbeki’s personal affinity for Mugabe. The usual suspects, Russia and China, also refused to allow the Security Council to take any action.

Many have called for a power-sharing arrangement until a run-off election can be held. However, Mugabe has already poisoned that well with his campaign of intimidation against dissenters. His forces have assaulted villages that voted for the MDC in the last election, making sure they understand the consequences of opposing the dictator. “War veterans” — in reality state-sanctioned thugs — have descended on the last remaining independent farms and have wrested control of the land from the farmers. Another election under this regime would be as meaningful as a Saddam Hussein plebiscite.

What has become very apparent is that long-standing multilateral organizations really don’t do much good except in regulation of commerce. When it comes to protecting people from dictators and kleptocrats, they don’t do anything at all, except in the case of the UN, whose forces just make the situation exponentially worse. Zimbabweans will have to overthrow Mugabe on their own absent any outside pressure for him to peacefully depart, and they can thank their friends in the region and around the world for the deaths that will follow.