Friday, December 12, 2008

Zim opposition official warns against military intervention

Zim opposition official warns against military intervention
Written by Etambuyu Anamela-Gundersen in Brussels and George Chellah in Harare
Friday, December 12, 2008 4:35:43 AM

MDC-Mutambara led faction secretary general Welshman Ncube has dismissed suggestions that military intervention can be an alternative to solving the Zimbabwe crisis.
And President Robert Mugabe’s spokesperson George Charamba yesterday said Western countries want Zimbabwe on the UN Security Council agenda.

Ncube was speaking at the European Parliament in Brussels last Thursday during a one-day conference organised by the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE).

The objective of the conference was to explore in what form European assistance should come under African leadership.

In response to questions raised by Graham Watson, leader of the ALDE Group in the European Parliament, Ncube, warned that a military solution should absolutely not even be considered because “it will play right into Mugabe’s hands”.

He said a military intervention would unite the nationalists and the war veterans and some of the most experienced fighters, who together would ignite a civil war, while claims of Europe wanting to restore colonialism will be brought to the fore in regalvanising the militancy of ZANU-PF.

Watson had sought to know, among other things, what Europe’s role should be in bringing about change in Zimbabwe or if military intervention even be considered.

Ncube said the sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe have worked to an extent. He said humanitarian intervention was required urgently given the current situation, citing the cholera epidemic, closure of hospitals in big cities, food shortages leading to hunger for both the rich and poor alike.

However, Ncube argued that solving the political crisis was much more of a priority than the humanitarian crisis. He said responding to the humanitarian crisis first was a short-term strategy and not a long-term solution.

Ncube reiterated that MDC was of the view that the Zimbabwe crisis should be resolved through political means.

“In this context the strategic choice is that it makes sense to cooperate and make democratic gains, the opposition together get the majority in Parliament and thereby controlling the agenda. We also make sure the democratic gains are not lost by power sharing and not letting ZANU-PF get rid of these gains, the idea behind all this being that we will be able to effect some transformation in the legal instruments of the country.” said Ncube.

Ncube expressed frustration with the September 15 agreement accusing President Robert Mugabe of holding on to what he called the ‘coercion ministries’ in reference to the ministries of defence, information, local government and agriculture. Ncube said the ministries President Mugabe was willing to surrender were those his government had failed to run.

“We have to persuade the international community to support us even if we have a government with Mugabe in it because the second scenario is one which could lead to Zimbabwe being a failed state,” Ncube said. “His [Mugabe] regime remains strong and is ready to perpetrate violence. This scenario is one that is likely to lead to more anarchy than driving Mugabe out of power. We do not want a similar scenario as Somalia where the country breaks down with warlords taking control and that is exactly what the war veterans will do.”

Lord John Alderdice, president of Liberal International, warned that Europe and Britain, especially, had to be careful about how it lent its support as that could prove to be counter productive. He emphasised that the intention of the meeting was to ascertain what Europe could do to help Zimbabwe.

“This is a public opportunity to get across the message that Liberals throughout the world are concerned about what is happening in Zimbabwe,” said Lord Alderdice.

And George Charamba yesterday said the West would stop at nothing to have Zimbabwe on the agenda of the UN Security Council.

He said Britain and the US were set on bringing Zimbabwe back to the UN Security Council.

“They are also dead set on ensuring that there is an invasion of Zimbabwe but without themselves carrying it out. In those circumstances, they will stop at nothing including abusing both the office and personnel of the [UN] secretary general,” Charamba said.

He said Zimbabwe would not be surprised if the West came up with a mission involving the United Nations.

The European Union recently extended a travel ban on 11 more Zimbabweans and joined calls for President Mugabe to leave office.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner announced that EU foreign ministers added 11 more names to a list of over 160 Zimbabweans banned from visiting the regional bloc.

And EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said the moment has arrived to put all the pressure for President Mugabe to step down.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose country currently holds the EU presidency, also joined calls for President Mugabe to leave office after his 28-year rule.

Last week, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu called for President Mugabe to step down - or be removed by force. The Nobel peace laureate told a Dutch current affairs TV programme: "I think now that the world must say, 'You have been responsible with your cohorts for gross violations, and you are going to face indictment in The Hague unless you step down'."

Tutu's strong words came as an African government for the first time called for Mugabe to be deliberately ousted because of the failure of the power-sharing deal in Zimbabwe.

Meanwhile, the UN and SADC have dispatched teams of health experts to Zimbabwe to assess the cholera situation. The two teams arrived in the country on Monday.

According to the state media, the two teams were expected to give technical and logistical support to the government. The World Health Organisation (WHO) team comprise of the head of delegation Dr Eric Laroche, director of operational platform Dr Dominique Legros, communication officer Paul Garwood, logistician Fred Urlep and water epidemiologist Dr Francesco Checchi.

The SADC team comprise of Dr Antonica Hembe, Joseph Mthethwa, Ityai Muvandi, Phera Ramoei and Dr Vonai Teveredzi.

Dr Laroche said his team was in Zimbabwe to assist the government through case investigation data management, surveillance and implementation of world guidelines in treating the disease.

"Our team will be in Zimbabwe, as long as it is required, to support the local WHO team control and stick to the guidelines of treating and registering patients among others,” Dr Laroche said. He said the team, which has already set up a command centre, was purely a technical one that would offer technical, logistical and financial support.

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