Saving Zimbabwe is not colonialism, it’s Britain’s duty

That’s the headline on the op-ed by John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, in the Observor. The archbishop writes,

The time has come for Mr Brown, who has already shown himself to be an African interventionist through his work at the UN in favour of the people of Darfur, finally to slay the ghosts of Britain’s colonialist past by thoroughly revising foreign policy towards Zimbabwe and to lead the way in co-ordinating an international response.

The time for ‘African solutions’ alone is now over. Despite his best efforts, [South Africa’s] President Mbeki has failed to help the people of Zimbabwe. At best, he has been ineffectual in his efforts to advise, cajole and persuade Robert Mugabe to reverse his unjust and brutal regime. At worst, Mbeki is complicit in his failing to lead the charge against a neighbour who is systematically raping the country he leads.

Britain needs to escape from its colonial guilt when it comes to Zimbabwe. Mugabe is the worst kind of racist dictator. Having targeted the whites for their apparent riches, Mugabe has enacted an awful Orwellian vision, with the once oppressed taking on the role of the oppressor and glorying in their totalitarian abilities.

The appalling poverty suffered by those who queue daily for bread in southern Harare is a world apart from the shops, boutiques and sprinkled lawns of northern Harare, where Mugabe’s supporters live in palatial surroundings. Britain must lead the way in calling for targeted sanctions against those purveyors of misery whose luxury is bought at the cost of unbearable poverty.

Read the op-ed whole here.

The Observor reports:

Sentamu’s intervention will be seen as highly significant, because Mugabe will struggle to depict him as a white colonialist. The archbishop was born in 1949 in a village near Kampala, the capital of Uganda. In a passage that is likely to resonate in Africa, Sentamu likens Mugabe to the late Ugandan dictator Amin. Sentamu, who was imprisoned for 90 days by Amin after he had showed his independence as a judge

The Foreign Office last night said that there would be no change in the government’s policy towards Zimbabwe. Britain offers humanitarian help to Zimbabweans but is relying on Harare’s neighbours to take political action so as to avoid accusations that it is throwing its weight around as a former colonial power.

Mugabe received a rapturous reception when he arrived at a meeting of the 14-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC) in Zambia last month.

Mugabe is the man with whom the Anglican bishop of Harare consorts. Bishops in the province of Central Africa have struggled to support the Zambian people without being misrepresented by Zambian government press organs.

The BBC News also spoke to Sentamu. See its news and video here.

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