Blair: Africa must address Zim

London – British Prime Minister Tony Blair said on Wednesday that neighbouring African countries had a responsibility to address the crisis in Zimbabwe, and suggested it could hamper his G8 goal of helping the continent.

Blair said it was harder to argue for a boost in international aid to Africa with such a prominent example of “abuses of governance and corruption.”

President Robert Mugabe’s so-called urban renewal campaign has displaced hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans.

Mugabe says he is trying to fight crime, maintain health standards and restore order in Zimbabwe’s cities. But the opposition, which has its strongholds among the urban poor, says the blitz is intended to punish its supporters, who voted against the government in recent parliamentary elections.

Blair was asked in the House of Commons whether he would call on South African President Thabo Mbeki to help the suffering people of Zimbabwe when he attends the G8 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland next week.

Blair said he would, and added, “We will continue to exert all the pressure we can… But in the end the best pressure will come from those countries surrounding Zimbabwe.”

“We have to make sure that African countries realise the deep responsibility there is to sort this out themselves,” he added.

“We are going to the G8 to try to make the case for helping poverty in Africa,” Blair added. “There is no doubt at all that it is harder to make that case whilst abuses of governance and corruption occur in African countries.

“Now I do not believe that what is happening in Zimbabwe should prevent us from still taking action on poverty in Africa. I think that would be wrong. But it is right also to say that of course we should draw attention not just to the abuses in Zimbabwe but also the urgent necessity of changing what is happening in that country for the benefit of its own citizens.”

What crushing hypocrisy. We will help you on the condition that you ‘deal’ with Mugabe, whose great sin was to expel whites off stolen land. Whatever moral outrage they manage to muster about these evictions or whatever they are, the real issue is Mugabe’s willingness to take on the West and his refusal to play along with this ‘aid’ charade. So in exchange for illusory debt relief, Africa is forced to capitulate to European demands. This is the devil’s bargain, and I wish African leaders would call the bluff. This is just another sickening chapter in the tawdry history of imperialism.

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