Mugabe’s Friends

When you are a vicious dictator known for fixing elections by intimidating and torturing opponents and any of their supporters, while still managing to have time to drive your country further and further into economic ruin, it’s always nice to know you have friends. In the case of Robert Mugabe, it is China and Russia.

As befits a non-democratic institution, the United Nations is run by a council of fifteen countries, five of which are permanent members, each with veto power, because of the nine votes required to pass any resolution, five of them must come from the five permanent members. That’s why when it comes to severe human rights abuses verging on genocide, Russia and China are always there to keep the world at bay. The two foxes always guarding the global hen house.

After all, China has had to lock down the population of entire cities whenever the Olympic torch has passed through, just to avoid the embarrassment of protesters. And of course most of those protesters are protesting about the Chinese takeover of Tibet, something the United Nations did nothing about because the Communist government of China was not the recognised government of China in the UN at the time.

It wasn’t just Russia and China that voted against sanctions for the Mugabe regime. There was Libya. Yes, the chief perpetrator of terrorism in north Africa is also a member of the Security Council. Now isn’t that comforting? Gee, I can’t imagine why Libya would be against international sanctions applied to a rogue government.

Another vote against sanctions came from Vietnam. No bastion of human rights there. Just this week they only allowed a state-sanctioned Buddhist group to organise the funeral services for Thich Huyen Quang, the leader of a dissident Buddhist group which promotes human rights and religious freedom. He spend many years under house arrest.

So there you have it. This is the body created to maintain world peace and stability. Thanks to the UN, Robert Mugabe will continue to maintain his oppression of the majority of Zimbabweans.

Police Enforce No-Go Area for Christians

I was on the verge of writing about how Robert Mugabe has banned open-air prayer meetings in the run-up to the run-off election in Zimbabwe. Then I came across something closer to home – about 60 miles from my home.

Arthur Cunningham and Joseph Abraham were handing out tracts in Birmingham. Abraham is pastor of Grace Bible Fellowship Church in Saltley. Cunningham is also in full-time ministry. They were sharing the Gospel with four young Muslims. That’s when the trouble started – not with the young people, but with a police community support officer. PCSOs are not sworn cops, but wear uniforms and work for the local police forces. They interrupted the conversation and began berating the preachers.

When the PCSO realised that Cunningham was an American ex-pat, he started on at them about Bush and the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. (The Telegraph and BBC say that both are American, but according to his church website, Abraham is Egyptian and Muslim by birth.) If it had ended there, we would just have a case of extreme unprofessionalism from a member of West Midlands Police. But, of course it didn’t.

When the preachers didn’t take his bait, the PCSO got even more aggressive. According to Cunningham, “He said we were in a Muslim area and were not allowed to spread our Christian message. He said we were committing a hate crime by telling the youths to leave Islam and said that he was going to take us to the police station.” He didn’t. PCSOs don’t have powers of arrest. Of course he knew that. He was just harrassing them.

But he wasn’t done. He decided to try and scare them away. “You have been warned. If you come back here and get beaten up, well you have been warned”. Now if the only person who was aggressive and abusive to them was the PCSO, who was threatening to beat them up? Was he going to do it? Did he have people who would?

West Midlands Police have refused to apologise to Cunningham and Abraham. Their spokeswoman said, “The investigation concluded that the PCSO acted with the best of intentions when he intervened to diffuse a heated argument between two groups of men.” She said the unnamed PCSO had been offered “guidance around what constitutes a hate crime as well as his communication style”.

So in other words, West Midlands Police acknowledges that their employee wrongly accused the preachers of a hate crime. Their investigation obviously also concluded that PCSO did not communicate in an appropriate manner. Nonetheless, they refuse to apologise.

Plenty of Cash and No Money

Nicholas van Hoogstraten has been arrested in Zimbabwe. He achieve notariety here in the UK a few years ago because he was convicted of for the manslaughter of a business associate and later cleared, but eventually paid out civil damages. The arrest in Zimbabwe has nothing to do with this. It has to do with possessing foreign currency and demand rent for some of his 200 Zimbabwean properties in something other than Zimbabwean currency.

He did accept some local currency. In fact he had far more of it than anything else. There was Z$20,000,000,000 with the money that police confiscated. That’s right: 20 billion. The only thing is that with an exchange rate of over Z$30,000 to US$1 – or about Z$60,000 to £1 – $20 billion doesn’t go very far.

I say all of this not to say anything about Nicholas van Hoogstraten, but rather about the economy of Zimbabwe. This is the degree to which Robert Mugabe has destroyed his country. This is why people are starving in a land that used to be the bread basket of Africa.