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June 25th, 2008
04:29 PM ET

Anderson's View: Enough is enough

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe

Anderson Cooper

It is hard to watch what is happening in Zimbabwe. Sickening to see thugs armed with steel clubs beating people whose only crime is to want a fair election.

For years Robert Mugabe has sent out his henchmen to intimidate his own people. For years he has run Zimbabwe into the ground. Enough is enough.

This used to be one of the most prosperous countries in Africa. I first went there in 1985, when I was seventeen and driving across southern Africa in a truck. I was there again in 1992 when I was working in Africa as a reporter.

It is a beautiful country, and the people deserve better than this. Robert Mugabe helped bring independence to Zimbabwe, but he makes the mistake all tyrants do. He believes he is indispensable, he believes he has a right to rule. He has been president for nearly 30 years. Enough is enough. The people have a right to replace him...

"They can shout as loud as they like from Washington or from London or from any other quarter," Mugabe said recently, "our people, our people, only our people will decide, and nobody else." The truth is, the people there have already decided.

Mugabe came in second in March when his countrymen went to the polls. Now there is a run-off election and he is doing all he can to make sure he doesn't lose again. While the world seems to be waking up to what is happening there, little it seems is going to be done about it.

The United Nations Security Council has finally condemned the violence, but their outrage is not backed up by the threat of force. South Africa's president and the leaders of other African countries have repeatedly turned a blind eye to Mugabe's tactics, and without greater involvement from them, it's unlikely much pressure will be brought to bear.

We sit and we watch, that's all it seems we're able to do.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Anderson Cooper • TV
soundoff (495 Responses)
  1. Terry

    I knew you people would find a way to blame Bush. Is there any oil in Afghanistan? We're there. You cry babies are so up in arms over Iraq and Afghanistan that we can't accomplish anything. You really would crap in your pants if we went to Africa.

    June 26, 2008 at 9:29 am |
  2. Jay, GA

    Thanks AC for covering this story!!! Please keep it in the news.

    June 26, 2008 at 9:29 am |
  3. Ali

    Our government has no time for this because we don't need anything from Zimbabwe. There is no oil coming from that country, no money. It's a disgrace. We stand for nothing but the almighty dollar.

    June 26, 2008 at 9:16 am |
  4. Derek

    Mugabe is not a Tyrant!!! He is a hero!!! Over 30 years ago, before he became president, the people of Zimbabwe had NOTHING!!! Now these ungrateful people want to get rid of their savior?? All I have to say is that I feel bad for Mugabe.

    June 26, 2008 at 9:16 am |
  5. Ann Hayward

    Robert Mugabe: Take a bow.........you've taken everything else

    June 26, 2008 at 8:55 am |
  6. Michael

    Anderson Cooper needs to get his facts right. Mugabe did not bring Zimbabwe to independence. He was deputy to Josaiah Tongogara who did. Shortly before the transition, Tongogara died mysteriously in a vehicle accident. Most at the time believed that Mugabe was exercising his version of democracy, which he is trying to repeat today. If you want our government to take action, convince them that Zimbabwe has significant oil reserves! Unfortunately, Mugabe equals (maybe even exceeds) the brutality of Saddam Hussein, but will be left in power because he does not have oil. So we will not be "exporting democracy" this time around. Michael Zimbabwe 1977-1980 and 1985-1988 (my spouse and son are Zimbabwean by birth).

    June 26, 2008 at 8:27 am |
  7. Kelvin

    Anderson, I cried when I saw your blog about Zimbabwe. YES, ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. I am from Zimbabwe and my family is there. We need people like you to help put the pressure on the world leaders.

    June 26, 2008 at 7:52 am |
  8. Paul

    Gee, CNN is always happy to involve our country into other's affairs when it's NOT in our natiional interest.

    When it is however, it's 24/7 coverage of why we should NOT be involved.

    Let the African's take care of their own problems – it's a whole CONTINENT with LOADS of resources for goodness sake. Why can't they do anything for themselves over there without us babysitting them?

    June 26, 2008 at 7:38 am |
  9. John K

    First, let me agree that the situation in Zimbabwe is intolerable, like so many other nations ruled by tyrants. Second, let's all agree that the UN (ie, the international community) lacks the moral commitment to do anything about it – they will pass resolutions and make speaches, but there is no real threat of action. Finally, let me point out that this is not disimilar from the situation in Iraq ten years ago. The US had plenty of moral high ground for pursuing regime change in Iraq – and you see how quickly the international community condemned that action. The same thing would happen here.

    June 26, 2008 at 7:04 am |
  10. Lisa L

    Dear Anderson

    I thank you for your report and pray that peace comes to the people in Zimbabwe.

    Take care and keep up the great work.

    Sincerely,

    Lisa L
    Sydney, Australia

    June 26, 2008 at 6:24 am |
  11. rob roy

    The sad thing is whoever replaces mugabe will be just as bad. How did the replacement of haiti's president turn out?

    June 26, 2008 at 6:23 am |
  12. Ed

    Somebody, please, just shoot this small-time, tinpot kleptocrat. How hard can it be to get a British sniper within 1000 yards? Christ, half of his own party wants him dead!

    June 26, 2008 at 5:52 am |
  13. Ray N

    I totally agree with your comments. Too bad there is no oil there or we would go in!

    June 26, 2008 at 5:51 am |
  14. John

    America should stay out of the politics of other countries unless those politics impact its interests. Americans regularly pay for their freedom with their own blood. Zimbabweans need to rise up and decide this matter for themselves.

    June 26, 2008 at 5:50 am |
  15. Vic (frm Kenya)

    Am an African and I know what it feels like to be in Zimbabwe.Recently I had the chance to visit Harare..and I could see the gloom and despair in the people.
    We need african leaders condemning Mugabe....as Raila odinga (Prime Minister of Kenya), Paul Kagame (President Of Rwanda), Wade (President of Senegal) and Nelson Mandela (Nobel Lauraete) have done.

    June 26, 2008 at 5:38 am |
  16. winar, indonesia

    Being a president for 30 years surely not a good thing, Mr.Mugabe might starts to think or maybe already think he is 'the private owner' of the country , so he can do whatever he want to preserve his ownership.Sad.

    June 26, 2008 at 5:27 am |
  17. Mal

    This, if nothing else, proves that Iraq wasn't about a dictator.

    June 26, 2008 at 5:13 am |
  18. Necessity

    I'm really worried about my family members still in Zimbabwe. Everytime I try to think of a possible solution, I find that it boils down to removing Bob by force, there's no way he's going out on his own.

    His actions have broken many family units and beaten down the hopes of very resourceful and ambitious people.

    June 26, 2008 at 4:49 am |
  19. Dave

    This guy needs to be taken out by Executive Action. I have no problem backing the assassination of this thug and crook.

    June 26, 2008 at 4:41 am |
  20. deborah, OH

    Anderson, thank you for this interesting article–this is the type of reprting you do best, in my opinion.

    I have been reading, almost daily, about the situation there, & it is truly heartbreaking. In our country, we just vote, & take it for granted–it is very frightening to see what happens in Zimbabwe!

    As to the UN–yeah, right!

    As one person said in this blog, does Zimbabwe have any oil?

    June 26, 2008 at 4:00 am |
  21. John Mayer

    All that violence is so unnecessary. All Mugabe needs to do is rig some voting machines. Maybe our president could send over some advisors.

    June 26, 2008 at 3:59 am |
  22. Ben

    Anderson, we all see your point. But what happens when Mugabe is finally gone, or when he dies? Another corrupt despot will take his place. That's what will happen as it always has happened. For Africa, chaos, corruption, and poverty are the norm and always have been. What makes you think it will ever be different?

    June 26, 2008 at 3:57 am |
  23. John

    Personally, I believe that it would be more sensible that we would go into Zimbabwe and take out the Mugabe regime. It would clear a large amount of problems one being a corrupt, dictatorial regime and another to be the economic misery caused by Mugabes socialist leanings. Really it wouldnt take much more than to have some targeted airstrikes in Harare and let Bob figure out whether its worth staying in power.

    June 26, 2008 at 3:56 am |
  24. Joseph Chonto

    Rwanda, Darfur, Zimbabwe - we sit and watch . . . Somalia, Congo, Nigeria - we sit and watch . . . Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, Chad, Angola - we sit and watch, sit and watch. . . .

    June 26, 2008 at 3:38 am |
  25. coly

    What are African leaders doing about the situtation in Zimbabwe?

    June 26, 2008 at 2:51 am |
  26. Robert

    I agree that what is happening in Zimbabwe and many other struggling nations are absolute attrocities, however should our resources not be best spent on domestic issues? A man with two broken legs can not carry anyone. Our nations of N. America are broken and N. Amercians deserve their tax dollars to go towards domestic issues. OUR taxes should go towrds OUR issues. It sounds horrible, but how can we help others when we can't help ourselves. Should we tell people in our own states or provinces that we can't help them in their hard times because we are sending THEIR TAX DOLLARS to another country? I want my tax dollars to go stay at home.

    June 26, 2008 at 2:43 am |
  27. D Lane

    Maybe if they start exporting oil, the U.S. will pay attention..........

    June 26, 2008 at 2:33 am |
  28. Alexa

    I agree, all we do is sit and watch. Even small things like donating money or even prayers help.

    June 26, 2008 at 2:27 am |
  29. mike

    the whole world is sickening, Anderson.

    June 26, 2008 at 2:26 am |
  30. JD

    OK,

    Let me get this straight. Invading Iraq was wrong, but invading Zimbabwe would be right?

    I would like to point out that no country in history that did not fight for democracy of its own accord ever became a democracy.

    Do we have to police the entire world? If we step in, we are the bad guys. If we don't, we are showing no compassion.

    I am just as sickened as the rest of the world. But unless we want to start a mandatory 4 year military service draft starting at age 18, we cannot police other people's civil wars.

    Even if we could provide the manpower, we shouldn't.

    Sanctions, yes. Physical intervention, no.

    June 26, 2008 at 1:37 am |
  31. Margaret Brindle

    Anderson,

    Appreciate your concern about and "outing" of Mugabe.
    I'm wondering -perhaps you've already done this and I missed it – would you consider doing a full hour on the US and the UN? I see several people claim the UN is "useless" or "does nothing." Perhaps your doing a show on the reluctance of many in power in the US, mostly Republicans, to support the UN has contributed to its not having the power it needs to take action. Have we finally paid our back dues?

    I hate to see the UN blamed, when I think the blame probably rests on the US and its lack of support of the UN. (How does anybody explain the John Bolton appointment, when he expressed anti-UN sentiments himself before his appointment.

    Your doing a program on the UN (Not just a snapshot, but an in-derph report) would enlighten us and bring us up to date. Perhaps my opinion suffers from being old news and things have changed.

    Some of us are losing faith, as the Darfur situation continues, after tons of television reports. How do we make sure such reporting has an actual effect on what-should-be-to-man an intolerable reality?

    Margaret B

    June 26, 2008 at 12:57 am |
  32. Katharine

    To Mike from Syracuse: What's up with all the sub-Saharan African countries that can't govern themselves properly is in no small part due to the colonial legacy. Those country lines today are for the most part drawn according to former European colonies, regardless of ethnic character and distribution. The sense of a national identity is often not even present. I, living in America, think of myself as an American. My counterpart in Zimbabwe may or may not think of him/herself as Zimbabwean. There's an enormous amount of fragmentation–nothing even nearly as clearly drawn as, say, the US two-party system. These countries are extremely young democracies, to boot, most of them not even fifty years old. Infrastructure is poor, economy is poor, disease is much more rampant–the list just goes on and on. The European powers screwed Africa over when they sat down and carved it up into colony-sized portions like so much meat, and then screwed them over again when they pulled out without taking care of the mess they left behind. I'm not saying there's no blame to be laid on these countries, but they have a lot more disadvantages to overcome than most Western countries, and we're responsible for some of them.

    June 26, 2008 at 12:29 am |
  33. brian, usa

    The current Zimbabwean question points to death of democracy as a result of nationalist leaders' conflation of 'liberation heroism' with lifetime entitlement to govern without responsibility and accountability. How do we justify oppressive and repressive actions of so-called liberators against their own people? It is a shame that African presidents have failed to raise their collective voice against President Mugabe. Mugabe uses rhetoric of empowerment and sovereignity to 'fool' Africans when in reality he has been responsible for pervasive disempowerment of his own people. Remember, Mugabe is an eloquent and extremely articulate, charismatic speaker. He has mastered the 'art' of deception, and unfortunately tends to use populist, emotive rhetoric to mobilize anti-white and western sentiments. Ironically, he is the very contemporary colonizer and oppressor of his own people, and I wonder how he sleeps at night knowing that a great nation has become a laughing stock of this world. A great leader he was in the past BUT because of his detachment from the daily realities of Zimbabweans, Mugabe has single-handedly destroyed a 'gem.' Unfortunately, the opposition party lacks a compelling case for change, and has failed to articulate a vision for change that appeals to the wider population in Zimbabwe. What Zimbabwe needs right now is a 'healing' leader that will build a bridge across the deep political fractures and dare Zimbabweans to dream big as well as see possibilities beyond their current experiences. Had Tsvangirai captured Zimbabweans' imagination with ideas about a new constitution, changes in governance framework, and a progressive macro-economic plan to revamp the economy, he could have won the March election with an overwhelming majority vote. The problem, in my opinion, has been Tsvangirai's naivety about the ZANU-PF's preparedness to relinquish power in a 'gentleman's manner.' ZANU-PF's slogan is 'Zanu ndeye ropa, Zimbabwe takaitora ne ropa ' (translated, Zimbabwe was won through the shedding of blood, and Zanu will shed blood for it). How then could Tsvangirai fail to read critically into the language of defense through the barrel of the gun? The hope for Zimbabwe is predicated on ZANU-PF's (Mugabe's) singular willingness to share power or voluntarily transfer reigns of power to the opposition on his party's terms. This is the dilemma in Zimbabwe's electoral politics, and opposition politics is predestined to remain oppositional until ZANU-PF changes its will. The sense of entitlement among the ruling party nationalist leaders is deeply entrenched, and remains a 'religious' issue for them. In view of this pessimistic scenario, what then is the solution? Mugabe must go, and so should Tsvangirai. A compromise candidate without a 'dead-end' and 'zero-sum' mentality of Mugabe and Tsvangirai is the solution for Zimbabwe. It's a pity that Simba Makoni didn't make it to the final two candidates. He has the credentials and believes in a unified nation, driven by an insatiable passion and interest to build a prosperous Zimbabwe that would claim its place in the global economy.

    June 26, 2008 at 12:28 am |
  34. Stracker M.

    Unfortunately, with people like this, they respond to only one thing; Violence. They perpetrate violence on others, and it is the only thing that carries weight with them. Personally I think the only way a solution occurs is if Mugabe is out of the equation. Him and his thugs. And the only way they are removed from the equation is by force. No one will do it because no one wants to create a messy situation. As in Darfur, the world will sit and watch and do nothing except tell Mugabe to do otherwise...which he will not, because he is not given a reason to do otherwise.

    June 25, 2008 at 11:53 pm |
  35. Tony

    there isn't any oil in Zimbabwe... don't expect any help from the USA.

    June 25, 2008 at 11:53 pm |
  36. Tony

    Why the outrage?

    It isn't like anyone's going to actually DO anything. So don't get riled up. You're wasting your time.

    Now, back to American Idol...

    June 25, 2008 at 11:47 pm |
  37. patrick

    am glad kenya is the first african country to openely condemn mugabe.just shows how kenya is a regional leader irrespective of its challenges

    June 25, 2008 at 11:47 pm |
  38. Kamiso

    Tyranny is a cancer that has sickened Africans for generations. Luckily, Zimbabwe is a country that has managed to to get an international media attention. Most people in Ethiopia and Sudan have already long been the victims of their own governments for many decades. there are many Mugabe-like leader in Africa today. At least, this time the rest of the world understands what it means to be an opposition group supporter in African.

    June 25, 2008 at 11:45 pm |
  39. nancy

    the reason we don't do anything about this is simple. there's nothing in zimbabwe we want. it's not like iraq where we were told we had to go in, topple a dictator, and stick around until it becomes a democracy.
    if zimbabwe was sitting on oil fields, our government would care very much about what's going on there.

    June 25, 2008 at 11:44 pm |
  40. Dave Eddings

    I'm still rather shocked that Nelson Mandela actually commented on the matter. Mugabe and the ANC go back a long way as allies from the days of post-colonial resistance to white minority rule in the region. It's a sudden reversal from the almost cowardice-level unwillingness to criticize a fellow African leader (especially a 'hero') among African nations, even though said African leader is as bad as Idi Amin for turning the region into a joke. The medal bedecked ex-corporal has given away to the (honorary) doctor wearing his own picture on his shirt.

    Thabo Mbeki will no doubt arrive at the same conclusion as his entire party and South Africa's best-regarded leader have, now that it's safe to be against Mugabe. Of course, if Mbeki folds now and starts criticizing Mugabe, my opinion will remain largely the same towards this singularly ineffectual politician.

    As to Mugabe, there isn't much to say for him. He's destroyed a country that used to be the jewel of Africa's agricultural business and put two thirds of its people dependent on food aid. How disgusting is that? In a day and age when food prices are spiking, this man's policy of giving away farmland to his inept cronies is enough for me to want him out of power. That he's a violent meglomaniac that makes Hitler and Stalin look stable (imagine Mugabe with the resources of the Third Reich or USSR and shudder) is merely more reason.

    All of Africa will benefit if the man stroked out tomorrow; perhaps stripping that Knight of Bath honour was done with that in mind.

    June 25, 2008 at 11:43 pm |
  41. serajaddin

    The situation in Zimbabwe is bad but its gravity and suffering relative to Iraq is zero. when the resources of a continent is looted for two centuries and its institutions is held hostage by colonial Europeans and never had a chance to develop, then it would take another century to rectify the situation. So, no matter what, the future of Africa is sure to deteriorate for many years to come unit no European left in Africa. And then many many years to recover and regenerate.

    June 25, 2008 at 11:43 pm |
  42. Troy

    History repeats itself..... tyrants always rise and fall!

    June 25, 2008 at 10:35 pm |
  43. Doug

    Such tragedy, not just for the people of Zimbabwe, but for all of Africa. I'm afraid the only way Mugabe will be leaving office is the way former Romanian dictaor, another tyrant,, Nicolae Ceausescu left in 1989–dragged by the long suffering people into the street and shot. There has to be a better way. The situation threatens to distabilize the entire region, why isn't South Africa taking a more active role in bringing about a peaceful resolution?

    Doug,

    June 25, 2008 at 10:34 pm |
  44. Kuda

    Anderson

    I am a Zimbabwean living in Zimbabwe and I am digusted by the violence. Seeing the mayhem, the badly beaten and tortured people it is difficult to believe it is happening in my beloved country but true enough it is. Finally African leaders are seeing what the opposition and the human rights organisations have been reporting on for the 8 years. The brotherhood is falling part, Nelson Mandela has finally said something, will Mbeki follow suit.? I am not holding my breath.

    June 25, 2008 at 10:34 pm |
  45. alex

    Hi Anderson,
    thank you for exposing the monster, Mugabe. Mugabe currently is allowing former dictator of Ethiopia, Mengistu Hailemariam to stay in Zimbabwe. Mengistu had massacered innocent Ethiopians for seventeen years and eventually fled to Zimbabwe. Mengistu currently is Mugabe's top advisor and is key architect of the terror in Zimbabwe.
    Alex

    June 25, 2008 at 10:33 pm |
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