Human Rights, Zimbabwe

Yet another plus for human dynamo, President Obama. Tackling Zimbabwe really should have been higher on the West’s political agenda. Thankfully the new President of the United States understands that something needs to be done and has wasted no time in taking up the cudgels.

I am constantly amazed that the people of Zimbabwe are managing to survive. How does a country manage to exist when an economy has collapsed? How do people cope with the outbreaks of virulent disease suffered by Zimbabweans? Zimbabwe is not just another failed state. It is a disaster of truly massive proportions.

This disaster has been caused by one man. Robert Mugabe has allowed his own megalomania to destroy his country and reduce his people to inhumane levels of suffering, the like of which we can hardly imagine.

This article from yesterday’s “Times” provides a harrowing report of just one small part of what is going on.

According a report in today’s “Times” from Tim Reid in Washington and Jonathan Clayton in Johannesburg, President Obama wants a fresh approach to toppling Robert Mugabe and is discussing with aides an unprecedented, US-led diplomatic push to get tough new UN sanctions imposed against the Zimbabwe regime.

The idea is to take the issue of Zimbabwe before the UN Security Council, having prepared the ground with Russia and China to persuade them to support the initiative. Neither country has supported previous moves against Zimbabwe, and both have significant financial interests in the country. The goal of taking Zimbabwe to the Security Council will be to pass strong sanctions, including a ban on arms sales.

In addition, the US and Britain are apparently anxious that Mr Tsvangirai does not sign up to a power-sharing deal. Failure to reach an accord would help clear the way to take the issue back to the UN.

All of this sounds very good. I for one have no faith in another attempt at any kind of deal with Mugabe. Tsvangirai has already tried that one and Mugabe would have none of it.

I wish Obama and his allies all success in their attempts to restore civilisation to Zimbabwe and end the appalling suffering across the whole of that unfortunate country, a country in thrall to one of the worst dictators we have seen for a long time.


Life Expectancy, Zimbabwe

Women in Zimbabwe can hope to live for just 34 years. It’s slightly higher for men – 37. Life expectancy has actually fallen by two months during the past year. Aids, the crumbling economy and hyper inflation are all taking their toll.In the UK female life expectancy is 81 and 76 for men. At the turn of the 20th century in 1901, it was 49 for women and 45 for men.

Women in the relatively prosperous west have always lived longer on average than men.There are also more first time mothers in the UK in the 30 – 34 age range than aged 25 – 20. In England and Wales there were 669,601 live births during 2006. 110,509 were to women between 35 and 39 and 22,512 to those aged 40 -44. The majority of British mothers give birth after the age at which their Zimbabwean sisters die.

Yesterday I wrote about the lack of women in senior positions in the European Commission and Council. Women’s representation is important and I will continue to work to make it better.

Yet if you were a woman in Zimbabwe you would stand a snowball’s chance in hell of getting anywhere. You would be dead.