Zimbabwe: disaster without end?

The disaster which is Zimbabwe has been going on for years: if one counts UDI, decades. The cholera outbreak is now killing increasing numbers and the hospitals seem completely unable to cope. The EU’s less than emphatic response has been to ban a few more Zimbabwean leaders from travelling (it is unclear how many loopholes there will be).

The Archbishop of York John Sentamu has called for military action if necessary to overthrow Mugabe; a position also supported by Desmond Tutu if African troops are used. The problems with military action are of course considerable. Mugabe has always had an effective army and it might remain loyal. Also of course violence would at least temporarily lead to even more deaths. The only African country with an army immediately to hand which could effect the removal of Mugabe is South Africa. Whilst they undoubtedly have the military strength and since Thabo Mbeki’s departure have been more critical of Mugabe it would undoubtedly be difficult for them to launch military action to overthrow a man who was once a hero of the independence movement.

The West of course has the military strength to perform such an action with ease. However, the weight of history is colossally against such an action and any invasion by western powers is almost inconceivable. There is of course a certain irony in that Harold Wilson also felt unable to use military force in 1965 against the country’s previous leadership.