|The Zimbabwe Debate
Zimbabwe: The Cholera Coup Plot
Zimbabwe has been wracked by a cholera outbreak that has sent hundreds to early graves. The situation has been compounded by water shortage which the government says is a result of lack of purification tablets. The tablets which can help prevent cholera cannot be got due to sanctions against the country by western powers.
|President Robert Mugabe|
A usually cocky Zimbabwe sent urgent appeals to the rest of humanity to assist in fighting the epidemic.Notably, the European Union has responded by pledging $12million for drugs and clean water in the country.But for countries like Britain and United States, the Cholera outbreak is a God sent opportunity to commence new schemes to oust the Robert Mugabe Government from power.
The American Government claims that the cholera outbreak is due to the Zimbabwean political crisis. Its solution is not to assist contain the outbreak but to remove the government.Ingeniously, it called on neigbouring countries to close their borders ostensibly to stop the cholera from spreading. But in reality, the call is for Zimbabwe's neigbours to stifle the landlocked country.
The politics of Britain and US are understandable, but not that of some African countries. Zimbabweans are dying of cholera, what is required is to save lives by helping a sister African country provide clean drinking water, rehydration drugs and other medical supplies.
It is not African to allow people die in order to score cheap political points and to get an excuse to join hands with neo-colonialists to oust an African Government from power. But this precisely is what otherwise respected Kenya Prime Minister Raila Odinga is doing. In response to a visit by Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and the Cholera epidemic, Odinga issued a call for a coup in Zimbabwe declaring that.
"It's time for African governments to take decisive action to push him (Mugabe) out of power". He called for an emergency meeting of the African Union (AU) where a resolution to send troops to Zimbabwe can be taken.
Odinga seems angry that the power sharing talks in Zimbabwe, unlike those that made him Prime Minister in Kenya, have not been fruitful. But the question is why? In reality, all sides to the Zimbabwean political crisis agreed on a power – sharing deal in September.
Even the number of Ministries to be run by each of the three main political parties have been agreed. The only dispute is who runs the Home Affairs Ministry which controls the police. After long disputes, the opposition MDC refused a power-sharing formula for the contentious Ministry.
But power sharing is not the cause of Odinga's anger. I recall that in his June 17, 2008 speech at Washington's Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) Odinga had asked Mugabe to resign if he fails to win the June 27 Presidential run-off elections.
But Tsvangirai later withdrew from the run-off. In other words, Odinga had agreed on the run-off and had believed that the opposition will win, hence his warning to Mugabe. But when Mugabe won unopposed, he sang a different tune.
Also, Odinga had asked the AU to prevent Mugabe from attending its meetings because he believes, the Zimbabwean elections were rigged. Strange enough, the same Odinga who believes that Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki rigged his country's elections, did to ask the AU to stop Kibaki from attending its meetings.
If the Cholera outbreak is a basis for organizing a coup in Africa, then Odinga would have had to organize one weekly in Nigeria where the health system is worse than Zimbabwe. Most of Nigeria is without water, even its new capital has water running only in the city centre and its Kubwa suburb.
If on the other hand, Odinga's problem is the elections, he would find that he does not need to go so far to Zimbabwe to overthrow governments. Except for Tanzania, its southern neighbor, Kenya is surrounded by countries with questionable electoral victories and systems.
In the north is Ethiopia whose elections were so hotly disputed that the streets were bathed in blood. Until today, lots of opposition politicians are in jail or on the run. Another northern neighbor is Sudan whose government is involved in genocide against the people of Darfur.
On Kenya's Western border is Uganda where since 1986, a "Movement" or no party system, has been imposed. Those who pick up the courage to run against the Museveni Government have to contend against the full weight of the Ugandan State or flee into exile.
On Kenya's border to the east is Somalia where anarchy reigns, pirates control the waters and the unrepresentative government is kept on life support oxygen provided by Ethiopian troops.
So a clean electoral contest cannot be Odinga's motive. Yet Odinga, who I met once at the Nairobi Airport through his late father, Jeramogi Oginga Odinga, and then parliamentarian, Dennis Akumu, is a brilliant man with sharp instincts.
So why is a man with a good pedigree playing the neo-colonial card and dancing so wildly to its music? Perhaps he is one of those who think that the ideological struggle is over and that countries with imperial intentions like the US and Britain are now ideologically neutral.
Odinga might also see himself as the new kid off the African bloc who can mobilize people like Morgan Tsvangirai in Zimbabwe and Jacob Zuma in South Africa, and present the Western and American powers with the new face of Africa. But he is mistaken. He cannot seek to satisfy these foreign forces without compromising the future of Kenya and mortgaging that of Africa.
There can be no good reason to carry out a coup in Zimbabwe, not even in the time of Cholera.
By Owei Lakemfa
Spokesman for the Nigeria Labour Congress and blogger at The Owei Lakemfa Blog
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