We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Zimbabwe – mass murder is not cricket

Zimbabwe is in the news, and so it should be. Several million Zimbabweans are probably going to die of starvation in the next few months. What’s more, this is, despite what President Robert Mugabe will tell you, a classic Communist-type famine, a state mass murdering its people, in this case all the people who dared to vote against Robert Mugabe in his recent election.

Now is the time for something to be done about this, not in a few months time, and to the credit of all sorts of people, not including me until now, this seems to be widely understood. Various efforts are being made to kick up a fuss about this horror. Last night, for example, British TV news had lots of Zimbabwe stuff, despite the imminent prospect of a war that our Prime Minister is having difficulty convincing anyone in Britain about who isn’t, like me, already convinced.

Peter Oborne, for example, did a Channel 4 documentary which went out last Sunday night, of him travelling around Zimbabwe, surreptitiously photographing Zimbabweans describing what remains of their abject daily diet, or warehouses where maize imported in order to feed the starving but immediately stolen by the government is being allowed to rot, or else is being corruptly sold in tiny amounts at extortionate prices by organisations headed by Zimbabwean Cabinet Ministers. Oborne has also written a piece for the Spectator about his journey.

What is to be done? If the South African government greeted Zimbabwean refugees with food camps instead of barbed wire rolls that would help, ditto if they pressurised Zimbabwe by threatening to cut off its supply routes. If Britain pressured all concerned a bit more publicly, that would help. If the Belgium government were to be swallowed up by a giant fireball, excellent. That would mean “Europe” being a lot less despicable about all this. If President George Bush could make the time to refer to this thing more loudly in among his Iraq preparations than he has so far, that would also save some lives.

And although it might not be practical in the immediate future, some of us could at least put the wind up your Average Sub-Saharan African Despot and his Many Apologists Worldwide by saying that all this black-on-black murdering does rather strengthen the case for the reconquest of Sub-Saharan Africa by, you know, white people. (Please understand that I’m trying to insert some more heat into this row, rather than just to shine a little more light on it.)

There’s half a book I could write about all this, but let me end with a word about cricket. The cricket point is that there is a cricket tournament coming up, a few of the matches of which are scheduled to be played in Zimbabwe. This is the Cricket World Cup next month. As atrocities go, the fact that these cricketers are probably going to play their games in Zimbabwe and be photographed not being very bothered about the fact that the government there is busy murdering about a quarter of its citizens doesn’t rank very high on the scale of human badness. It’s not their fault. And frankly, I don’t care one way or the other whether this tournament is deranged to the point of serious derangement by protests about the mass murdering in Zimbabwe or not. If I had a button to push that would do it, I’d probably dig up every tournament pitch now, and fly a plane over the mess with the slogan (thank you Peter Tatchell) “Berlin 1936 Zimbabwe 2003” attached to it. Or something. But the bigger point is, this cricket tournament has turned a very boring little report about Africans murdering one another – and what’s newsworthy about that? – into an already noisily singing and dancing Major Western News Story. The opening ceremony for this World Cup will be on February 8th, and the timing is good.

So, blogospherists, if you are looking for a hook, use cricket to spice up this story, which I very much hope that you will tell to each other and to anyone else you can interest. Say how much you loath and despise cricket, and how completely you would normally be ignoring it, but … Or like me, say how much you love cricket, except that in this case … Or say that cricket isn’t the point; mass murder on the other hand … (That’s what Oborne did at the start of his Spectator story.)

One way or another, please spread this news. It already is news. Please help to make it bigger news, before too many more people die.

10 comments to Zimbabwe – mass murder is not cricket

  • Richard Cok

    I think that the rest of the world honestly believes that “the Africans kill each other….that their thing. That its just the way that Africans are.” After the past ten years I can see why they may think that way.

  • Patrick

    Spot on Brian.

    I live in Angola where the civil war has now ended and the government, although hugely self serving and corrupt, does seem at last to be making some improvements to people’s lives as it comes under international pressure.

    In Zimbabwe the pressure has no effect because uncle Bob is a standalone dictator along the lines of Saddam and not just primus inter pares among a ruling clique. For him it’s about power / survival more than theft. To me this means that the end of Bob probably means the end of the problem – and indeed the news has much about Zanu PF internal dissent right now.

    The US has now ruled back in state approved assassination as part of the war on terror. Has the UK? Can we nominate Mugabe for the target of the month? A top sniper could hit him from 1km away. Can his personal security be as good as Saddam’s? I doubt it.

  • The Southern Africa Company (Rhodes was right) Bill

    Her Majesty, her Lords Spiritual and Temporal and the House of Commons do this day make a bill to:

    1. Allow the establishment of the Southern Africa Company.

    2. Permit the aforesaid company to:

    a. arm itself pretty much as it damn well likes.

    b. Recruit among the Zimbabwean population and anyone else who fancies smashing the crap out of Mugabe.

    c. Invade any part of Southern Africa with a crap government.

    d. Establish its own government there and make piles of money subject to some suitable remittance back to Brenda.

    3. The aforesaid company shall be exempt from any silly Euro-legislation, gun (tank, RPG etc) laws, corporate governance requirements and laws on sexism, racism and homophobia.

    4. Go get ’em lads.

    Made this day 14 of January in the fifty-first year of our reign.

  • Brian –

    Well said. Though my voice is puny, I’ve posted on your comments at my blog.

    John V

  • Trevor

    I’ve been trying to find any confirmation of these stories for the past two days. These both state that Mugabe might be very close to negotiating a deal for exile. If anyone knows more about this, please let me know. Thanks for talking about this. It amazes me that the world is not more outraged about what is essentially massmurder.



  • todd


    How is Europe being despicable, and why the animus against the Belgian government in particular?

  • Theodopoulos Pherecydes

    I think it’s time for Blair to extract some “pay-back”.

    Er…as long as we’re about this mutual “regime change” business, how about a couple of US Ranger battalions for Zimbabwe?

  • Re: Southern African Company

    1. You Brits are cool.

    2. Can Americans buy shares? (It should be at least as successful a public offering as one of those Seattle dot.com companies. Gives the phrase “burn time” new meaning.)

    3. Get Aiden Hughes to do your logo and corporate image work: http://www.bruteprop.com/

    John “Almost bought a .38 Enfield revolver once” Sabotta

  • The venom should not just be directed at Zimbabwe but also at South Africa. Without the support of the ANC, Mugabe would not last a month. His country would fall into catastrophic chaos.

    However, intervention in Zimbabwe, without the support or assent of South Africa, is very difficult.

    The famine is on its way. Given the damage AIDS has already caused to this society, have the twisted minds of the elite conceived of famine as a tool to sweep away the infected parts of their population since those with damaged immune systems are less likely to survive.

    Could they be capable of such calculated evil?

  • Dave Farrell

    The facts as stated have been widely publicised in the UK media, and are generally accepted (except in African nationalist circles, where Mugabe is still able to trade on his struggle credentials.

    It should be noted, however, that none other than Kenneth Kaunda has just pleaded with Mugabe to his face, in public, at a Lusaka ceremony, to stop “fighting colonial ghosts” and start fighting Aids and fostering development in his country.

    To which Comrade Bob replied that the blame for his problems all lay at the door of No 10 Downing Street (even Aids?)

    It seems Ken and Nelson Mandela both regard him as a total disaster area and are putting on the heat where they can to get people to stop pussyfooting around. There is no chance, though, that Mugabe will voluntarily take a golden handshake and slope off into exile. Like all megalomaniacs, he can be expected to go down to the last bunker.
    However, your remark about “black on black” violence is nonsensical and your presumably facetious comment about reconquest by “white people” is at best in poor taste.

    It’s not black on black violence (and it involves whites and Indians too) which is just cant. It’s political violence between two groups of people. Is the Ulster strife “white on white” violence?

    Nor can it be escaped that whatever Mugabe’s excesses, the legacy of colonialism in Zimbabwe was, as apartheid has been in SA, a huge gap between rich and poor, which means white and black. Mugabe is in power still because he is able to capitalise on the strong emotional charge this has with the more recently colonised in southern Africa, as well as buy his army and cronies off. And there is also an ethnic factor — the MDC is primarily a Matabele movement.

    It is going to be extremely useful, should the cricket go ahead,
    for people abroad to see Mugabe’s thugs in action against protesters — as long as they actually manage to get out on the streets.
    There are signs even Mugabe’s men are realising that their meal ticket is falling apart. But things will get worse before they get better.