Notes from a small island
A weblog by Jonathan Ali

Thursday, July 03, 2003  

So the 24th Caricom Leaders Conference is underway in Jamaica, in picture-postcard Montego Bay (part of Mo Bay is like that, anway, and no doubt that part is where the conference is being held). The conference opened lasy evening and was addressed by South African president Thabo Mbeki, who has been on an official visit to Jamaica since Sunday, and was scheduled to leave today.

Over the past few days the issue of Zimbabwe has, of course, come up, and while Mbeki says his government is working for change, there is no question of an intervention in Robert Mugabe's kingdom. A country once famed as the bread basket of southern Africa now can't feed its own people, and is in an utter mess - there is 70% unemployment, almost 300% inflation, and human rights abuses that would (almost) make Fidel Castro blush.

If this isn't cause for intervention, it's hard to say what is. GW Bush has been talking about intervening in the civil war in Liberia. Well, civil war is one thing, but brutal, bloody, repressive rule by one man gives more cause for that sort of action, in my book. Perhaps American interests are more vital in Liberia than Zimbabwe.

(Incidentally, the West Indies cricket team is set to tour Zimbabwe and South Africa later this year. I don't have a fully-formed opinion on the matter of sport and politics yet, but I'm hoping the West Indies Cricket Board does, and I also hope we get to hear it soon. In the meanwhile I'll give it some thought and will present my views when I'm done.)

In Thabo Mbeki's case, he could be forgiven for not being more concerned with his neighbour's house, since his is ablaze with problems of its own. One of those is Aids, but the Mbeki government continues to (bewilderingly, frighteningly) toe the asinine, deadly line that the HIV virus does not cause Aids, without offering one shred of conclusive proof to the contrary. Thankfully our leader hasn't descended to that sort of obscurantist thinking on this issue; but he and his government still persist in blocking measures (distribution of condoms and other methods of birth and disease control distribution; sex education in schools) that are necessary to combat our own Aids epidemic, not to mention the rife teenage (and, as was recently reported pre-teenage) sexual activity that is taking place.

posted by Jonathan | 5:13 PM 0 comments


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