As the US and its allies squirm in Iraq, an unfolding political/humanitarian/totalitarian crisis presided over by an equally nasty dictator plays out with barely a murmur from the protectors of freedom in the West. Its name is Zimbabwe and his name is President Robert Mugabe.

What’s happening is nothing less than a “total breakdown of society”, says the website This is Zimbabwe. Life expectancy has plummeted to 34 years for women and 37 years for men (and this was in 2004), there is increasingly blatant use of torture tactics by Mugabe’s thugs, inflation started last year at 585% and ended 2006 at almost double that figure, infrastructure is crumbling and Harare’s water supply is polluted. Meanwhile, says the website, “Zimbabwe is being looted and pillaged by its rulers. They access fuel at the official price of $400-odd per litre, and run thriving businesses selling the same fuel back to the public or the industrial sector at five or six or seven times that amount. They pocket the difference, and term it profit, when its real name is theft.”

A Zimbabwean blogger writes:

Yesterday we had a power cut in our shopping centre from about 9am until 10pm. Not being one to sit in a slump I took myself off to do some local area research. What I discovered:

– the optician across the road has ancient dusty sunglasses on sale for about Z$149 000 a pair and that next door to them

– Kenge gourmet sandwiches are selling for Z$10 000 bucks a bap.

As I wandered through the shopping centre the contents of a letter I received the day before came to mind.

I am a male adult aged 48 years. Presently I am a pensioner getting a paltry sum of Z$13 000/month pension. I worked in the Police for a period of 27 years having joined in January 1977 in the then British South Africa Police. Please help me.

This human disaster is matched by a political disaster. Mugabe has moved  next year’s presidential election to 2010. Writes Jonathan Moyo in the Zimbabwe Independent:

Now that the Zimbabwean crisis has undeniably reached its tipping point with catastrophic failure looming on the horizon as everything for everyone everywhere across the country begins to rot or collapse beyond repair, it is alarming to observe that President Robert Mugabe remains doggedly in hot pursuit of a reckless three-pronged strategy to keep himself in power beyond 2008 without having to face the electorate ever again.

What influence is Australia attempting to bring to bear on its wayward fellow Commonwealth member? Is Zimbabwe little more to our Prime Minister than an underperforming test cricket minnow?

Peter Fray

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