Charles Onyango-Obbo at PostGlobal

Charles Onyango-Obbo

Kampala, Uganda

Charles "Mase" Onyango-Obbo a Ugandan author, journalist, former editor of The Monitor and political commentator of issues in East Africa and the African Great Lakes region. He writes a column, Ear To The Ground in The Monitor, and a second column in the regional weekly, The EastAfrican. He is currently managing editor in charge of media convergence at the Nation Media Group in Kenya. Born in the town of Mbale in eastern Uganda, Onyango-Obbo studied at Makerere University in Kampala, and the American University in Cairo where he obtained a Masters degree in journalism. In 1991, he was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University. On May 1999, during the Second Congo War, Onyango-Obbo and other editors of The Monitor – Wafula Ogutu and David Ouma Balikowa – were arrested and charged with "sedition" and "publication of false news"´, following the publication of a photograph of a naked woman being sexually abused by men in military uniform. Ugandan officials insisted that the assailants might be soldiers from Congo or Zimbabwe (who where also involved in the Congo war), and could not possibly be Ugandan soldiers as the photo caption claimed. Onyango-Obbo and the other editors were acquitted on March 6, 2001. Close.

Charles Onyango-Obbo

Kampala, Uganda

Charles "Mase" Onyango-Obbo a Ugandan author, journalist, former editor of The Monitor and political commentator of issues in East Africa and the African Great Lakes region. He writes a column, Ear To The Ground in The Monitor, and a second column in the regional weekly, The EastAfrican. more »

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To Save Zimbabwe, Do Nothing

The Current Discussion:Zimbabwe's chaos has brought about unprecedented cooperation in the UN, with even China and Russia switching sides to condemn Mugabe's government. So -- what should this united UN DO to force change?

What is happening in Zimbabwe is by no means the worst that has ever befallen this continent. Other, similarly insane government policies in other African countries have starved more people, and political opponents have been treated far more brutally. (Of course, the inflation rate of nearly 200,000% is in a class of its own.)

But it is easily Africa’s greatest moment of shame.

In other cases, there was always some excuse to latch onto, some explanation: a drought in Ethiopia, a long civil war in eastern Democratic Republic in Congo, a failed state and banditry in Somalia, floods in Mozambique. Never has a president as educated as Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe (one of the most learned politicians on Earth, thank you) taken a great nation, a regional breadbasket that was not confronting disaster, down such a ruinous path.

Given the criminal manner in which he has behaved in recent days, forcing even his diehard friends like Russia and China to voice concern, the ground is fertile for extreme solutions. In the west, and increasingly in Africa, appalled voices are calling for military intervention, further sanctions, or even for Mugabe’s assassination – which would perhaps be the neatest way to dispose of him.

However, Zimbabwe’s situation is so hopeless that it is too late for even extreme measures to work. Mugabe is now so discredited that he must be praying for some form of military intervention. That would allow him to wrap himself in the national flag and fight on as the defender of Zimbabwe’s hard-won independence. Its effect would be to buy him more time. And it would undermine the moderates in the ruling Zanu-PF party, if indeed there are left, and be new glue to bind the hardliners together.

What Zimbabwe needs from the world now is for the world to do nothing. The situation in the country must be allowed to deteriorate further without giving Mugabe a change to blame an outside force for it.

That means Mugabe might not lose power immediately, but it ensures that when he does, Zanu-PF and the whole discredited apparatus that has kept the regime limping along will collapse with him.

Zimbabwe will have a better chance of getting its life back with Zanu-PF totally wiped out, rather than in a dispensation where its remnants have to be accommodated.


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