A corrosive influence in Africa

A corrosive influence in Africa
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First Published: Tue, Jul 15 2008. 11 52 PM IST
Updated: Tue, Jul 15 2008. 11 52 PM IST
Africa is in the news again, for the wrong reasons. On Monday, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, a prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, charged Sudan President Omar al-Bashir with genocide. He wants an international arrest warrant for Bashir, an ignominious first for a sitting head of state.
This comes on the heels of a Chinese veto in the UN Security Council against sanctions being imposed on Zimbabwe, where a rigged election brought back Robert Mugabe as president.
Two sets of facts are common to both stories. One, Chinese support for the two regimes against overwhelming condemnation by the international community. Two, the ruthless suppression of domestic opposition by the Sudanese and Zimbabwean governments. In Sudan, it was a combination of government forces and the ferocious Janjawid militia that murdered and raped thousands of innocents in the Darfur region of the country. In Zimbabwe, the Mugabe regime unleashed terror against supporters of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change led by Morgan Tsvengarai, mostly in rural Matabeleland. Matabeleland is Tsvengarai’s political base.
This is in stark contrast to a number of other African nations that are trying to set a different example, one that tries to show Africa in a different, progressive light. Good governance, free trade and political freedom form the core of these attempts. Two of Zimbabwe’s neighbours, Botswana and Zambia, are good examples. Unsurprisingly, both have been dismayed by Mugabe and his ham-fisted attempts to silence opposition.
To a great extent, China bears responsibility for this state of affairs. Its hunger for natural resources to power growth at home is creating a humanitarian and political nightmare in Africa. Both Sudan and Zimbabwe have few, if any, friends on the international firmament. Chinese weapons and arms, coupled with support at international fora, are subverting peaceful attempts to persuade these countries to behave otherwise. It’s time the world took a hard look at the roots of China’s economic growth, one that has such a corrosive impact on African lives.
Can China be dissuaded from supporting rogue regimes? Write to us at views@livemint.com
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First Published: Tue, Jul 15 2008. 11 52 PM IST