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Engaging in the Illegal and the Illegitimate

By Reason Wafawarova
December 27, 2008

FROM the time Morgan Tsvangirai left the Sandton Convention Centre at the last Sadc summit that discussed Zimbabwe, the man has found good politics in playing melancholic before the media.

Here is a man, who not only buys a property in nearby South Africa and takes away his family from the health hazards that have become of water consumption in Zimbabwe, but also safely takes himself away from the country to wherever sympathy can be enjoyed, not least in the bosom of the wifeless and no-family Botswana President Seretse Khama Ian Khama.

Botswana as a country has no First family and Khama has got a Zimbabwean guest to fill in the attention gap for a while.

What we have seen in the last few weeks is a man running away from a progressive package that is meant to steer his country away from untold sufferings.

When he is not blaming Sadc and Africa for his strange behaviour, Tsvangirai is posturing before any bunch of journalists who care to listen — posturing melancholically as one utterly distressed to hypochondriac levels by the suffering of Zimbabweans.

He is obviously so distressed that the suffering can continue and the people can wait in pain until he gets what he perceives as equality with President Robert Mugabe, whatever that means.

Meanwhile his masters in Washington have been joined by his makers in London in calling for the ouster of President Mugabe.

It is not very surprising that Tsvangirai seeks equality with a target for ouster. Is he any cleverer than that?

If there is one person that cherishes every additional statistic to the cholera epidemic it is the opposition leader, who sees each dead body as a blow to President Robert Mugabe and not as an unnecessary loss to the family of Zimbabwe.

Here is a man propped up by crisis, being harboured by a Government that publicly calls for the switching off of electricity and fuel supplies to Zimbabwe, if only that can topple President Mugabe for Tsvangirai to take over.

When Serbia was invaded the intellectual community in the West agreed that the decision was illegal at international law just like they generally agreed when Iraq was invaded in 2003.

The phrase "illegal but legitimate" was used to try and justify this barbarism by the Western elite and those intellectuals from the rightwing went into overdrive in emphasising the legitimacy of these unwarranted and unwanted interventions.

Today we do not have any contesting voices to the assertions that Western sanctions on Zimbabwe are illegal although we are reminded every now and again that these measures are legitimate "in order to remove the regime".

The assumption is that "the regime" is a universally loathed organization, the support for whose ouster is a foregone conclusion.

This is why the South Africans must realise that in their moment of naivety they were taken advantage of and they were manipulated to oust Cde Thabo Mbeki on behalf of those who hold the view that not condemning the "Mugabe regime" is a punishable offence.

We have heard some of the most bizarre political statements being uttered since the cholera outbreak manifested earlier this year.

From politically powerful but morally deficient leaders like Gordon Brown and George W Bush, plainly directionless political lunatics like Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga, pseudo-religious activists like Desmond Tutu and the comic John Sentamu, all the way to minor players but absolute morons like SW Radio’s Tererai Karimakwenda — the call for war in Zimbabwe has been deafening and nauseating.

It is amazing that these crazy calls are made in the name of supporting Tsvangirai and the man hopelessly takes glee without reading the vainglorious irrationality for what it is.

Any responsible political leader would have long made a public statement not only condemning the prospect of conflict and war, but clearly dissociating himself from such campaigns.

It would appear like the Western elites are quickly forgetting how the hideous crimes of the 20th Century led to dedicated efforts to save humanity from the curse of war.

No rational person could tolerate any more the likelihood of ultimate doom after Nagasaki and Hiroshima.

These efforts led to the consensus that must today guide actions of nation states, a consensus formulated and outlined in the United Nations Charter.

The Charter opens by expressing the determination of the signatories "to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind".

The "untold sorrow" here refers to the total destruction of infrastructure and civilian targets, as all the participants knew very well but refrained from mentioning.

It is not surprising that the words "atomic" and "nuclear" do not appear in the Charter.

‘Victors’ do not expose their evil, do they?

We have another post-war consensus on the use of force in the December 2004 UN High-level Panel on threats report, "Challenges and Change". The panel included high ranking personalities like Brent Scowcroft, the George Bush (Senior) security advisor.

The panel firmly endorsed the principles of the UN Charter; that force can be lawfully deployed only when authorised by the Security Council, or under Article 51 of the Charter.

Article 51 permits the "right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security".

It is also commonly interpreted with sufficient latitude to allow the use of force when the "necessity of self-defence is instant, overwhelming, leaving no choice of means, no moment for deliberation", to quote Daniel Webster.

Any other resort to force is a war crime, which the Nuremburg Tribunal called "the supreme international crime". So the crowd that has been advocating for the use of force on Zimbabwe are advocates for the supreme international crime — they are international criminals.

The High-level Panel concluded, "Article 51 needs neither extension nor restriction of its long understood scope . . . and should be neither rewritten nor reinterpreted."

The UN World Summit of September 2005 also reaffirmed, "The relevant provisions of the Charter are sufficient to address the full range of threats to international peace and security, specifically the authority of the Security Council to mandate coercive action to maintain and restore international peace and security . . . acting in accordance with the purpose and principles of the Charter."

The Summit further committed itself through the UN to "help states build capacity to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity and to assisting those which are under stress before crises and conflicts break out".

Would "assisting those which under stress before crises and conflicts break out" not have been the right approach after the cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe?

It is clear that from any number of angles and by whatever length of stretch of interpretation, Article 51 of the UN Charter cannot be appropriate for military intervention in Zimbabwe, especially on the basis of a cholera outbreak.

The 2005 UN World Summit concluded that there was no new granting of the "right of intervention" to individual states or regional alliances, whether under humanitarian or other professed grounds.

The December 2004 UN High-level Panel concluded, "For those impatient with (the Panel’s conclusion on Article 51) the answer must be that, in a world full of perceived potential threats, the risk to the global order and the norm of non-intervention on which it continues to be based is simply too great for the legality of unilateral preventive action, as distinct from collectively endorsed action, to be accepted. Allowing one to so act is to allow all."

At international law it is not only baseless to call for military intervention on Zimbabwe, but also blatantly dangerous for the international community and most dire for those Zimbabweans who might be foolish enough to consider involvement in any form of military aggression.

Cholera might be spreading in Zimbabwe or in the region but its prevalence is not a threat to international peace by any measure of imagination.

If it were, HIV and Aids could have long caused the Third World War.

The call for military intervention, along with Tsvangirai’s continued calls for more sanctions on Zimbabwe, especially on its remaining productive companies; are all illegal and illegitimate and have neither place nor basis in international law.

The converse for accusing companies and certain individuals of "propping the Mugabe regime" is the accusation that sanctions, diseases and poverty are propping up Tsvangirai and MDC-T.

So Zimbabweans are meant to choose between those who "prop up the regime" by criticising the West and MDC-T or by condemning sanctions, or helping Zimbabweans materially and those who prop up Tsvangirai by mobilising more suffering for the generality of Zimbabweans in order to fail the regime.

This writer never imagined for once that there would be a day when Zimbabweans would be so divided as to have a bloc that hails and cherishes the idea of more and more suffering for ordinary people, applauding the enemy onslaught on the motherland, all in the name of bringing an insidious puppet politician into the highest public office.

We carry bleeding hearts over the crisis in our country but we have questions to answer.

Zanu-PF cannot be a benign factor to the treacherous behaviour we are witnessing today.

Not only has the party helped immensely in destroying the faith of the children of our revolution, but also there is this apparent lack of initiative to provide alternatives for the sufferings of our people.

Steven Gowans, the Canadian writer, rightfully and justifiably asks the question of what is expected of a Zanu-PF confronted by a treacherous opposition powered by powerful Western forces.

He demands to know the means of defence that are at the disposal of a weak and poor "Third World" Zimbabwe.

He demands to know how they are meant to fight back.

Very pertinent questions, but equally pertinent are the questions being asked by many Zimbabwean people today.

What is expected of a people the leadership of whose revolution has been infiltrated by thieves and selfish, criminally minded people?

What is expected of a people who only have known-enemies as the sole means to punish and discipline their own leadership? Do they, under these circumstances, hail or condemn the actions of the enemy?

The culture of corruption in Zimbabwe is too apparent to be covered even by all the rubble in the world today and what is expected of the people in these circumstances?

The best we have seen so far is indifference by many people when it comes to condemning the ruinous economic attacks by Western forces and the worst we have seen from some has been active cooperation with the economic aggressors.Whichever way, Zanu-PF’s leadership must realise that they cannot have the people carrying the sacrifices of defending the revolution on their shoulders while many of them choose to be carried around in luxury by the revolution.

That is not only stupid but suicidal and unacceptable.

Zimbabwe we are one and together we will overcome. It is homeland or death!

Reason Wafawarova is a political writer and can be contacted on or visit

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