Target Centermass


Somalis Killed in Protests against Islamic Militiamen

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:21 pm

Obviously, violence and madness in Somalia is nothing new. Black Hawk Down, anyone? However, things have changed of late, as radical Islamists move ever closer to taking complete control of the strife-ridden country. I have been negligent in pointing this out, so here’s the latest bit o’ news that should boost the Somali tourist industry.

Islamic fighters in the Somali port of Kismayo opened fire yesterday on residents who were burning tyres, throwing stones and chanting to protest against their takeover of the city hours earlier.

A 13-year-old boy was shot dead and two other people were injured as violence raged for several hours in Somalia’s third biggest city, witnesses said.
Click to learn more…

“We have been taken over by extremists, the Islamic courts have taken us by force, and now they are firing at us,” said Dahabo Dirie, a protester.

The Mogadishu-based Islamic militiamen poured into Kismayo overnight to extend their grip on south-central Somalia and effectively flank the powerless central government on three sides.

Ministers accused the militias of mounting the offensive using fighters from Eritrea, Pakistan and Yemen.

“There are foreign forces … which attacked Kismayo,” Hussein Mohamed Farah Aideed, the Somali interior minister said.

A militia official, who spoke to a crowd in Kismayo before the protests began, said the movement was receiving help from abroad, but did not specify.

Unfortunately, the kinds of tourists that developments such as this will draw are the radical Islamist expansionists and jihadists. Indeed, while the media blasts the clarion call of a resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan, that resurgence has only led to them dying by the bushel in much the same manner that they have in every one of their annual spring offensivepaloozas since they were swept from power. The only obvious differences this year is that they’ve garnered far more press for their strengthening and they are becoming martyrs in great numbers at the hands of so-called “second rate crusaders.”

Iran is an obvious problem, and its rulers seem willing to work with the al Queda-type terrorist groups … to a degree. They share a common enemy in the Great Satan, but both have extremely different views about their hopes for the world and the Middle East in the event of success.

Obviously, the radical Islamists that once found a home in Afghanistan, a home that harbored their training camps and allowed them to project their terror, are under too much pressure there now to be anything more than a threat against the westerners in that country. Likewise, they cannot find a strong base for their own growth in the long term in Iran. At this point, an Islamist seizure of Somalia would seem to be the best hope for a new base from which to train the jihadists and expand the bloodshed. Luckily, any such shift is something that has been in our game-planning for some time now.


U.S. Demands Action, Global Yawn Expected

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:45 pm

My, but we Americans are a demanding and, at times, pathetically optimistic bunch.

On Iran:
U.S. demands swift action for Iran’s nuclear noncompliance

As the deadline set by the UN approaches, the US is pushing for swift sanctions against Iran for its lack of compliance with the international committee’s demand to stop its nuclear enrichment program, American officials said Monday.

Iran is expected to provide its response to the European incentive package on Tuesday, but the US is looking ahead to the UN deadline set August 31. Sources in Washington speculated that the Iranian response to the incentive package would not be conclusive, yet would include no sign of willingness to stop the uranium enrichment process.

US President George W. Bush said Monday he hoped the international community moved quickly to impose sanctions against Iran in case it decides to go ahead with its nuclear project.

On Lebanon:
UN force must be deployed immediately, says Bush

George Bush called yesterday for the urgent deployment of a UN force in southern Lebanon, while offering American help with logistics, communications and intelligence. He also urged France to contribute more troops.

Mr Bush was speaking as the week-old ceasefire was in danger of unravelling, following an Israeli raid into Lebanon and an increasing reluctance among European countries to contribute soldiers to an expanded UN force.

Under the terms of a UN resolution passed this month, the force was to number 15,000 and be joined by a similar contingent of Lebanese government troops at the southern border, providing a buffer between Hizbullah and Israel.

But France, which was supposed to lead the expanded UN force, has offered only 200 troops, while Israel has blocked the participation of countries with which it has no diplomatic relations, ruling out Indonesia, Malaysia and Bangladesh.

Romano Prodi, Italy’s prime minister, said yesterday he was willing to accept Israel’s request for it to command the peacekeeping force, but said that the UN secretary general would have the final say in who should lead the peacekeepers.

On Sudan:
U.S. Urges UN Force in Darfur ‘Without Delay’

The United States Monday called on the government of Sudan to allow deployment of a U.N. peacekeeping force in Darfur “without delay.” The current African Union observer mission in the region is ill-equipped and under-funded, and lost two members killed in an ambush Saturday.

Officials here are pointing to Saturday’s ambush as further evidence of a deteriorating security situation in Darfur that they say requires the early deployment of a full-scale U.N. peace force.

The United States and Britain last week introduced a resolution in the Security Council that would re-make the current African Union mission in Darfur into a United Nations peacekeeping force.

But the Sudanese government continues to oppose the idea, with President Omar al-Bashir threatening to forcibly resist its introduction.

Of these three stories, I expect the U.N. and the global community to respond quickly with grumblings, stutterings and grandiose pronouncements of nothingness, respectively. If not respectively, then in any order the reader elects to apply the three courses of inaction to the three stories.


Brrreeeport on Love-child Rape Trial

Filed under: — Gunner @ 10:32 pm

The Brrreeeport visits South Africa, where a strange courtroom tale is unfolding.

An unexpected family link between South African ex-Deputy President Jacob Zuma and a judge has left questions over the future of his rape trial.

South African media have revealed that Mr Zuma has a son whose uncle is a judge who was to have heard the case.

The 29-year-old man’s mother is the sister of Judge Jeremiah Shongwe.

Judge Shongwe was due to judge the case after Bernard Ngoepe stood down at the defence’s request, and Phineas Mojapelo stood down for “personal” reasons.

Mr Zuma’s defence team would have raised the issue of the blood connection in court if Judge Shongwe had not stood down from the case, the Star newspaper reports.

The recusal of the three most senior judges of the Transvaal region – Judge President Ngoepe and his two deputies, Judge Mojapelo and Judge Shongwe – has left uncertainty over who will preside over the Zuma trial when it resumes in the Johannesburg High Court on 6 March.

The Brrreeeport suggestion? Let Judge Judy have it.

Oh yeah, and just what is the Brrreeeport? Just a little blogosphere jacking with the search engines, courtesy of Scobleizer (hat tip to Llama Butcher Steve).


At the Movies with the United Nations

Filed under: — Gunner @ 10:19 pm

The good:

Govts should pay for cartoon protest: UN

Iran, Syria and other governments that failed to protect foreign embassies from mobs protesting over cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed should pay for the damage, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said.

The cartoons’ publication in a Danish newspaper have triggered widespread protests across the Muslim world including violent attacks on Western diplomatic offices in a number of countries.

“The government has a responsibility to prevent these things from happening. They should have stopped it, not just in Syria or Iran but all around,” Annan said.

“Not having stopped it, I hope they will pick up the bill for the destruction that has been caused to all the foreign countries,” he told CNN.

“They should be prepared to pay for the damage done to Danish, Norwegian and the other embassies concerned.”

The bad:

UN report calls for closure of Guantánamo

A UN inquiry into conditions at Guantánamo Bay has called on Washington to shut down the prison, and says treatment of detainees in some cases amounts to torture, UN officials said yesterday.

The report also disputes the Bush administration’s legal arguments for the prison, which was sited at the navy base in Cuba with the purpose of remaining outside the purview of the US courts, and says there has been insufficient legal process to decide whether detainees continued to pose a threat to the US.

The report, prepared by five envoys from the United Nations Commission on Human Rights and due for release tomorrow, is bound to deepen international criticism of the detention centre. Drafts of the report were leaked to the Los Angeles Times and the Telegraph newspapers, but UN envoys refused to comment yesterday.

During an 18-month investigation, the envoys interviewed freed prisoners, lawyers and doctors to collect information on the detainees, who have been held for the last four years without access to US judicial oversight. The envoys did not have access to the 500 prisoners who are still being held at the detention centre.

“We very, very carefully considered all of the arguments posed by the US government,” Manfred Nowak, the UN special rapporteur on torture and one of the envoys, told the LA Times. “There are no conclusions that are easily drawn. But we concluded that the situation in several areas violates international law and conventions on human rights and torture.”

The report lists techniques in use at Guantánamo that are banned under the UN’s convention against torture, including prolonged periods of isolation, exposure to extremes of heat and cold, and humiliation, including forced shaving. [Note: humilition equals torture. Go figure.]

The UN report also focuses on a relatively new area of concern in Guantánamo – the resort to violent force-feeding to end a hunger strike by inmates. [Note: certainly a case of damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Imagine the outcry had they been allowed to starve. I say fine — let ’em starve.]

And the ugly:

Bush agrees to work with U.N. on international force for Darfur

In a move that ultimately could lead to the deployment of U.S. troops to Africa, President Bush on Monday agreed to work with the United Nations on the creation of a new international force to stop ethnic killings in Sudan’s Darfur region.

Although Bush made no commitments on a possible role for U.S. troops, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said he favors American participation in the peacekeeping mission. Bush and Annan sidestepped that issue during a White House meeting that focused on the mechanics of creating a peacekeeping force.

“When the planning is done and we come up with detailed requirements, then each government will have to indicate what they will offer and what they will do,” Annan told CNN after the meeting. “I hope that the U.S. and other governments with capacity will pull together and work with us in putting the forces on the ground.”

Annan said that international troops offer the best hope for ending the violence that’s claimed as many as 200,000 lives and left nearly 2 million people homeless. Peacekeeping troops from neighboring African countries have been unable to stop marauding militias that operate with support from the Sudanese government.

The campaign of terror and ethnic cleansing, orchestrated by Sudanese Arabs, targets Darfur’s African population. Humanitarian groups say the violence rivals the slaughter in Rwanda in the 1990s.

Bush and other administration officials have shown little enthusiasm for putting U.S. troops in the middle of the ethnic strife, but they haven’t ruled it out. Bush, who has called the killings in Darfur genocide, didn’t even mention plans for an international force in brief remarks to reporters after his meeting with Annan.

He said only that they had “a good discussion” about the problem.

A State Department spokesman said that any discussion of sending U.S. troops to Africa is premature until the United Nations comes up with a more complete plan for an international force. The Pentagon is ready to send experts to U.N. headquarters in New York to help plan the peacekeeping mission and ensure that it has a large African component.

“It’s really premature to speculate about what the needs would be in terms of logistics, in terms of airlift, in terms of actual troops. And it’s certainly in that regard premature to speculate on what the U.S. contribution might be,” State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said.

One note about the ugly factor here: it is certainly an understatement to say the Sudanese situation is already quite ugly. Any U.S. military involvement only increases the potential for “Americanizing” the bloody mess.


U.S. Navy Seizes Pirate Ship Off Somalia

Filed under: — Gunner @ 9:41 pm

It’s not just a job, it’s an anti-piracy adventure on the high seas.

The U.S. Navy boarded an apparent pirate ship in the Indian Ocean and detained 26 men for questioning, the Navy said Sunday. The 16 Indians and 10 Somali men were aboard a traditional dhow that was chased and seized Saturday by the U.S. guided missile destroyer USS Winston S. Churchill, said Lt. Leslie Hull-Ryde of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command in Bahrain.

The dhow stopped fleeing after the Churchill twice fired warning shots during the chase, which ended 87 kilometers (54 miles) off the coast of Somalia, the Navy said. U.S. sailors boarded the dhow and seized a cache of small arms.

The dhow’s crew and passengers were being questioned Sunday aboard the Churchill to determine which were pirates and which were legitimate crew members, Hull-Ryde said.

Sailors aboard the dhow told Navy investigators that pirates hijacked the vessel six days ago near Mogadishu and thereafter used it to stage pirate attacks on merchant ships.

The Churchill is part of a multinational task force patrolling the western Indian Ocean and Horn of Africa region to thwart terrorist activity and other lawlessness during the U.S.-led war in Iraq.

The Navy said it captured the dhow in response to a report from the International Maritime Bureau in Kuala Lumpur on Friday that said pirates had fired on the MV Delta Ranger, a Bahamian-flagged bulk carrier that was passing some 320 kilometers (200 miles) off the central eastern coast of Somalia.

UPDATE: Charlie Munn over at the Officers’ Club looks at this event, and piracy in general, through the lens of our war against radical Islamic terror.


UN Retreats as Ivory Coast Faces New Civil War Threat

Filed under: — Gunner @ 10:04 pm

Tumultuous Ivory Coast looks to be spinning its way back to internal strife and bloodshed.

Ivory Coast, once one of the wealthiest countries in Africa, was close to its second civil war in five years yesterday as gangs of armed thugs loyal to President Gbagbo ran amok across the southern half of the country.

A 300-strong contingent of Bangladeshi UN troops was forced to withdraw after an attack on their base at Guiglo, 300 miles west of Abidjan, the commercial capital. At least four people died when the peacekeepers opened fire to defend themselves.

Another contingent of 70 international peacekeepers was evacuated from the town of Douéké. Peacekeepers at the UN headquarters in Abidjan fired in the air and used teargas to keep the thugs at bay. Businesses across the city closed as Mr Gbagbo’s supporters blocked roads with burning tyres and stopped vehicles.

President Obasanjo of Nigeria will fly to Ivory Coast today to try to defuse the troubles. The UN and France, the former colonial power, called for calm.

Late last night Mr Gbagbo responded by calling on his supporters to end the protests and return to work.

The rebels, who control the northern half of the country, had given warning of renewed war if Mr Gbagbo reneges on a UN-brokered peace agreement negotiated last year. They have been fighting for real powersharing with the southern elite and equal distribution of the country’s wealth.

The violence erupted on Monday when international mediators demanded that the mandate of the country’s parliament, a rubber-stamp body packed with Mr Gbagbo’s supporters, be wound up pending elections.

The ruling party, the Ivorian Popular Front (FPI), said that it was quitting immediately the transitional Government and the UN-backed peace process.

“If the FPI succeeds in making a putsch against the peace process, that means war,” Sidiki Konate, a spokesman for the northern New Forces rebel movement, said. Mr Gbagbo unleashed the ruling party’s Young Patriots, a favourite tactic of a man who has clung to power since the end of the 2002-03 civil war divided his country, and who has resisted all attempts to persuade him to share power.

Gangs of Young Patriots have spread out across Abidjan and other main population centres controlled by government forces. The few foreigners left in Abidjan, once the jewel in France’s colonial crown, are hiding in the basements of their houses or in the homes and offices of Ivorian friends.

The last time that machete-wielding gangs hit the streets, they beat and raped any white foreigners they found.

“There are virtually no whites left. The only foreigners left in Abidjan who are not in the well-protected UN compounds are Lebanese who are busy picking up what business the expatriates left behind,” a regional analyst said.


In France, which has 4,000 troops operating alongside the 7,000-strong UN peacekeeping force, General Henri Bentegeat, the chief of the Armed Forces, said that the time had come for the UN Security Council to make good its threat of imposing sanctions on Ivory Coast.


The FPI has called for the departure of the UN peacekeepers and the French troops whom they accuse of supporting the rebels in order to take control of Ivory Coast’s cocoa industry — the world’s biggest.

Despite the presence of the United Nations and the French, it seems that a true quagmire and civil war can be managed.

If interested, check out the original story for a timeline of Ivory Coast’s spiral into madness.


U.S. Uses ‘Iron Fist’ in Iraq

Filed under: — Gunner @ 12:24 am

The U.S. is conducting an offensive against the terrorists in Iraq. I find Canada’s Globe and Mail coverage of the effort to be amazingly negative in story and poor in detail, even for our supposed allies to the north.

A U.S. offensive aimed at al-Qaeda in Iraq insurgents in western Iraq entered its third day Monday, with air strikes in a town on the banks of the Euphrates River, witnesses said. At least 36 militants have died since the fighting began, officials said.

No serious U.S. casualties have been reported in the “Iron Fist” offensive by 1,000 Marines, soldiers and sailors near the Syrian border.

Well, so far, so bland. That must stop. So, too, must actual reporting of the offensive, as the story turns now towards negative news elsewhere in Iraq. Hey, the alleged point of the story got over sixty words — time to shift to unrelated gloom-and-doom.

In Baghdad, Iraq’s oil minister narrowly survived an assassination attempt when a roadside bomb blasted his seven-car convoy, killing three of his escorts, officials said.

Elsewhere, roadside bombs and fighting between insurgents and Iraqi forces on Monday wounded at least seven Iraqis in Ramadi, a militant stronghold west of the capital, police and hospital officials said.

Insurgents wearing black hoods were seen carrying machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades in the city’s streets, and Iraqi civilians gathered around two burning Iraqi army pickup trucks. Some of the civilians celebrated the destruction by carrying Iraqi military helmets and a uniform that appeared to have been pulled from the burning Iraqi vehicles.

In the northern city of Mosul, a drive-by shooting killed Nafi’a Aziz, a female member of Ninevah’s provincial council, and her son, said police spokesman Brig. Saeed Ahmed. Mr. Aziz was in charge of the council’s human rights committee and a member of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, the party of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani.

The offensive and street fighting come less than two weeks before the national referendum on a new Iraqi constitution. Al-Qaeda in Iraq and other groups in the Sunni-led insurgency have killed at least 207 people over the past eight days in a bid to wreck the vote.

On Sunday, Al-Qaeda in Iraq claimed to have taken two U.S. Marines captive during the fighting and threatened to kill them within 24 hours unless all female Sunni detainees are released from U.S. and Iraqi prisons in the country. The U.S. military said the claim appeared false but that it was conducting checks “to verify that all Marines are accounted for.”

Well, that should be enough to quash any optimism about the offensive. Let’s actually return to that offensive, shall we?

The offensive in western Iraq by 1,000 Marines, soldiers and sailors began early Saturday in the village of Sadah and has since spread to Karabilah and Rumana, two nearby towns on the banks of the Euphrates River. On Monday, witnesses told The Associated Press that helicopter attacks on Rumana were sending up clouds of black smoke.

No casualties were immediately reported in Monday’s fighting by the witnesses, who spoke on condition of anonymity out of concern for their own safety, or by the U.S. military command center in Baghdad.

The military says al-Qaeda in Iraq, the country’s most feared insurgent group, has turned the area near Iraq’s border into a “sanctuary” and a way-station for foreign fighters entering from Syria.

In Karabilah, Marines clashed with insurgents who opened fire from a building on Sunday in a firefight that killed eight militants, the military said.

Most of the militants appeared to have slipped out of Sadah before the force moved in, and hundreds of the village’s residents fled into Syria ahead of the assault.

There was “virtually no opposition” in Sadah, the Marine commander in western Anbar province, Col. Stephen W. Davis said.

At least 28 militants were killed in fighting Sunday, Davis said, bringing the two-day toll among insurgents to 36. There have been no serious U.S. casualties in the operation, he said.

Okay, the American offensive appears to be going well, time to cast a pall on that.

On Monday, a CNN journalist embedded with Marines in eastern Karabilah filed video showing the attack. About 20 Iraqi civilians fled the fighting, and the wounded included an Iraqi mother, father and their child, who were bleeding after being hit by flying pieces of concrete.

Oh holy crap! Civilians in a combat zone were injured by flying bits of building! Oh the humanity! Damn, but large portions of Canada really need wake up, crawl out from under the blanket of protection their southerly neighbors have afforded them for apparently far too long, and actually come face-to-face with a real threat. I doubt their grandfathers on D-Day fretted overly much about bystanders being stung by inadvertant debris.

The rest of the story ignores the offensive and returns to the negative stories covered earlier. It’s almost like the author wants the reader to know a successful operation is underway, but doesn’t want that news to bring any good vibes. On the other hand, for balance’s sake, the article does wrap up with a slightly positive tidbit, again unrelated to the offensive.

Elsewhere, Shiite militiamen released the recently kidnapped brother of Iraq’s interior minister, the freed man, Abdul-Jabbar Jabr said.

Well, there, that’s fair coverage of a friend’s successful venture, wouldn’t you say?

Meanwhile, Chad over at In the Bullpen has a rather speculative story that al Queda in Iraq may be considering bailing on, well, Iraq as a base of operations. Continued offensives like those barely covered above would certainly play a role in such a maneuver. Chad goes on to ponder about possible new sites for the terrorist base of operations.

Where would they move? The Sinai is the first place I’d look for any reemergence, but there’s also Northern Africa and the Horn of Africa to consider.

As I’ve noted before, the U.S. military is already planning for such a relocation.


African Union Introduces UNSC Reform Measure

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:52 pm

United Nations Security Council expansion — the haggling begins, courtesy the Dark Continent.

The African Union on Monday introduced a U.N. resolution on Security Council expansion, despite behind the scenes negotiations on a rival proposal presented by Japan, Brazil, Germany and India.

The draft resolution was a chance for Africa to put forward the case for why it needed permanent seats in the Security Council. But it was not clear whether the resolution would be put to a vote.

Nigeria’s envoy, Aminu Bashir Wali, who presented the resolution to the U.N. General assembly called it “a reference point for negotiation with other member states and interested groups.”


Most Africa speakers said Africa was the only continent that did not have a permanent seat in the current 15-member Security Council. Latin America does not have a permanent seat, but the Africans consider the United States a representative of the Americas, while South American countries do not.

“If we fail to seize this opportunity, the credibility and legitimacy of the Security Council and the entire system of global government will continue to erode,” said South Africa’s representative, Xolisa Mabhongo.


Germany, Japan, Brazil and India have called on the General Assembly to enlarge the Security Council from 15 to 25. This plan has six new permanent seats, including two for Africa, but new members would not have veto power.

The African Union’s draft resolution asks for the council to be enlarged to 26 seats, one more nonpermanent seat than the four aspirants’ proposal. It also advocates six new permanent seats but with veto privileges.

I’ve blogged before my thoughts on the proposal by expansion by Brazil, Germany, India and Japan. I agreed that, individually, each country had valid arguments for representation and even mentioned the viability of an argument for a permanent presence for Africa. That said, I was against expansion because it would leave a handicapped, commonly-ineffective UNSC hobbled by further numbers, leading to greater room for indecisiveness.

Expanding the Security Council has been under discussion for a dozen years without a solution, mainly because each region or nation has its own aspirations. The issue was given momentum this year by Annan who argued the council was unrepresentative and should be reformed before the summit.

Without African Union support, the four aspirants will not get enough votes for their resolution.

“It’s not possible for any group to get two-thirds by itself,” Indian Foreign Minister Natwar Sing said on Sunday. “So we have to find a way for our differences not only to narrow, but to disappear.”

Among the current five permanent council members with veto power, the United States and China are lobbying against all the plans under consideration. France and Britain support the four aspirants. The last step in changing the council composition needs approval from the five powers.

In Berlin on Monday, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said the fact that no deal was reached on Sunday was not surprising.

“Nobody expected that the African Union, which has its own resolution proposal, would quietly file it away after a talk with the G-4 foreign ministers,” he said.”

Aye, even given African expansion, does a single country garner a permanent seat? I should hope not, as none are currently both stable and have a sufficient history of being globally positively influential, in my opinion. Perhaps Nigeria? Were one nation to be singled out, I would arbitrarily select Senegal. My reasoning? I did an amazingly-pathetic term paper on the country in college for an upper-level course on the Political Economy of Sub-Saharan Africa; the paper got me an “A-” when I really deserved not only an “F” but also to be ceremoniously drummed out of the classroom. Vive le Senegal!

I’ll certainly be keeping an eye on this pending debate to see just how far the UN will elect to further cripple itself.


Boys Trafficked for Human Sacrifices

Filed under: — Gunner @ 10:16 pm


The leaked report also reveals countless examples of African children killed after being identified as “witches” by church pastors.


The leaked report is quoted as saying: “People who are desperate will seek out witchcraft experts to cast spells for them.

“Members of the workshops state that for a spell to be powerful it required a sacrifice involving a male child unblemished by circumcision.


The girl, an orphaned refugee from war-torn Angola, was stabbed, kicked, beaten, had chilli peppers rubbed in her eyes and was forced into a laundry bag and threatened with drowning in a river.


It emerged that 300 had vanished, 299 from Africa and one from the Caribbean.

The true figure for missing boys and girls is feared to be several thousand a year.

Where is this happening?


Somebody please tell me again why multiculturalism is such a plus and assimilation of immigrants into Western civilization is such an incorrect notion these days.


White Farmers Reject Mugabe Plea to Return

Filed under: — Gunner @ 10:16 pm

An interesting case of reaping what you sow.

White farmers evicted by Robert Mugabe’s government have reacted with contempt to an offer that they should return to Zimbabwe to take part in “joint ventures” with those who brutalised them and stole their land.

Gideon Gono, the governor of the country’s central bank, suggested the idea last Thursday as a possible solution to Zimbabwe’s economic crisis.

Greg McMurray, a tobacco farmer who fled Zimbabwe in 2001 and is now a grinder at a factory in Wiltshire, said: “These are empty promises. We have had all the assurances before and then they just turn around and change their minds.

“I had them coming into my garden and threatening my fiancée. Men with a bit of beer in their bellies told me, ‘We’ll come and burn you and your wife and your house’.

“I would love to go back but the economy’s in ruins. The place is a shambles. So many professional people have left. It would need a new regime before most of us would think seriously about going back.”

Actually, make it a case of not reaping what you failed to sow.

During the evictions, some white farmers were murdered and many others were beaten and their families abused. The evictions prompted the collapse of the agriculture sector, the traditional engine of the economy.

Those who took over the farms had no specialist knowledge – and most farmland now lies uncultivated. The machinery has been stolen, buildings have been plundered and the former workers are starving.

Eddie Cross, the economics spokesman for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change – which was heavily defeated by the ruling Zanu-PF party in recent parliamentary elections that were widely condemned as being rigged – said that Mr Gono was desperate.

As long as Mugabe reigns without major reforms, the white farmers are correct in declining their burden. Besides, Kipling was so nineteenth century.

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