Friday, June 27, 2008

Mbeki doesn't Condemn: Smart Diplomacy or Pusillanimous Act

Thabo Mbeki, South Africa's President, chooses to continue to use his 'quiet diplomacy' and not condemn Mr. Mugabe for his recent use of violence in campaigning. South Africa, being the economic powerhouse of sub-Saharan Africa, could put a strangle hold on the landlocked Zimbabwe- forcing Mugabe to change his actions. South Africa could potentially shut off all electric to Zimbabwe, disallow the use of their ports, and cut off any of the surrounding countries- unless they also discontinue trade and goods entering Zimbabwe. Mr. Mbeki is once again being criticized for not using this position of power to stand up to Mr. Mugabe. It is simple to see why someone would call Mr. Mbeki a coward; however, I believe he is taking the correct approach- no matter how whipped he looks in the process-as long as he is doing it for the right reasons.

First off, we know that President Mugabe does not care what happens to the citizens of Zimbabwe; rather, he cares much more about staying in power. This being said, cutting off electric, trade, and port access would really be putting the citizen's of Zimbabwe in a strangle-hold, rather than President Mugabe himself. This would therefore increase the amount of immigrants that would flee into the already over crowded- South African cities. As discussed yesterday, this is exactly what South Africa is trying to avoid. South Africa should be looking to increase the standard of living and increase political relations with Zimbabwe- in order for Mr.Mugabe to be receptive to policy and reform suggested by the South African government and the SADC. Keeping Mugabe close, by not condemning him publicly, gives Mbeki his right ear. As long as Mbeki, uses the position to turn Zimbabwe back in the right direction- it will be seem as one of the great achievements in Mbeki's political career, if not- it will become a rather large blemish on his political record.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

South Africans Fed up with Immigrants

South Africans attempted to take the immigration problem into their own hands, killing 22 immigrants over the last few weeks- 6 in the last two days. Many immigrants have been chased from their jobs and homes over the last few weeks. The violence must stop, however, South Africans do have the right to be upset. This should be an eyeopener for the South African government, to address the issues that are causing this hatred and violence.
Since Apartheid, there have been a handful of Black South Africans that have flourished; however, most have not. The image that an outsider acquires from seeing a Black president and cabinet members, successful Black businessmen, successful black doctors and lawyers, etc.- is that the average Black man is doing well for him self in South Africa. The fact is that the average is either unemployed, 23% of the population, or fighting to hold his job. Finding housing has also become extremely difficult and at a premium. The inequality has only risen because of these misconceptions and with an increase in illegal immigrants, it will only get worse.

South Africa is surrounded by extremely impoverished and politically unstable countries. Therefore, it is easy to see why immigration is such a problem. It is the nature of human beings to want a better life for your family and yourself, so if you put that on the scale of these countries, we are talking about life and possible death. For example, we discussed the violence going on in Zimbabwe where money is currently worthless because of hyperinflation. Why work if the money you are working for is worthless? Why stay in a country that turns to violence because no one has any reason to work and pay for goods- instead they turn to looting and violence. Zimbabweans actually makes up the largest number of these immigrants fleeing to South Africa, because of just these very reasons.

These immigrants work for less and hold jobs that South Africans want and need. They also lower wages because South Africans can no longer go on strike to get better treatment or better wages, simply because they will just be replaced with immigrant workers. These are legitimate reasons to be upset and enraged, especially when you don't see your government doing anything about the problem and accepting the misconception that the average Black South African is doing well for themselves. Violence is not an acceptable response, however, the government must respond by opening their eyes and realize that the answer to these problems lies on the Southern African Development Community(SADC). I am not saying reward the violence, rather realize that the violence may escalate exponentially if you do not show that you are on their side, as well as not against the immigrants.

Taking the steps that the SADC was set up to do, will show just that. South Africa must help the bordering countries, economically and politically, so that immigrants do not feel the need to flood into South Africa- the economic powerhouse of Sub-Saharan African. The basic concept of the SADC is to split economic gains amongst the southern countries, make sure the countries are politically stable and transparent, and evolve together. Obviously these all have been weakly enforced over the last few years. South Africa needs to invest in the surrounding countries much more than it has. Yes they will be taking a hit in total capital; however it will stop the spread of inequality and improve long term growth by stabilizing the region around them. Foreign investors are much more likely to invest if the area is stable and the roads throughout the south are kept up for shipping purposes. The key is to invest in South Africa's future by investing in the surrounding countries, and this should be done through the SADC. There is no short term answer to immigration- they must show an effort for the long term.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Mugabe continues his 28 year reign, cowarldy

Zimbabwe's President, Robert Mugabe, scared his opposition, Morgan Tsvangirai, out of the race and into exile yesterday - by pure violence. He was forced to seek shelter in the Dutch Embassy after he withdrew from the presidential race against President Mugabe. Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change(MDC) has come to an end, recording a high mark at the end of March, when he won the parliamentary majority. This most likely will not have any short term affect because of the deflated egos of Tsvangirai's followers. It is difficult for MDC followers to stand up against violence for what they believe, if the leader in which they are fighting for has gone into hiding. The long term effect of Tsvangirai's fight for presidency will depend on the UN's actions, coupled with being able to revive the Movement for Democratic Change.

The United Nation's shook it's finger at Mugabe's cowardly tactics today; however, it is yet to be seen whether the security council actually acts aggressively against these actions. It is no secret that China usually does not look at humanity before business, but it is time for China and all the UN Security Council members to step up and show the world that violence is not an acceptable means to stay in office. African countries, leaders, rebels, citizens are all watching very closely to see what will be allowed in these developing nations and what the world will not stand for.