South Africa, Zimbabwe Unify
Many worry that South Africa is traveling the same destructive path as its northern neighbor Zimbabwe. Having long suffered from problems similar to those in Zimbabwe—including crime, corruption and economic woes—South Africa now appears intent on following in its footsteps politically. In late November 2005, those concerns rose another notch as South Africa and Zimbabwe strengthened defense and intelligence ties.
South African Intelligence Minister Ronnie Kasrils “praised Zimbabwe’s ‘advances and successes’ in the 25 years since its independence from Britain. He said the two countries shared a ‘common world view’ and would ‘march forward shoulder to shoulder’” (cnn, Nov. 17, 2005).
Zimbabwe has “advanced” in many ways: for instance, its land seizure program has advanced to the stage where there is virtually no white ownership of farms in Zimbabwe. Consequently, its food-shortage issue has also reached the advanced stage—nearly one third of the population is severely short on food. Last year, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe was able to use “advanced” technology to block his political opponents from broadcasting their speeches in the lead-up to elections. Official returns showed that the number of votes received had advanced past the number cast, something that could never be accomplished in a fair election. Inflation is currently over 400 percent, far more “advanced” than most nations.
When questioned about South Africa’s support of a country so obviously opposed to human rights, Minister Kasrils responded: “[W]e are indebted to our neighbor for achieving freedom and liberty. This will never ever be forgotten by the people of South Africa” (ibid.). Zimbabwe has South Africa’s unapologetic support, and Robert Mugabe is considered a hero by many in South Africa.
Human rights abuses, unfair elections and land seizures seem destined to become the norm in South Africa next.