I was told today about an old Soto proverb - that if your neighbour's house is on fire then your house is on fire. Today Zimbabwe feels like it is being set alight by brutal intimidation and political repression, never mind economic meltdown.
Yesterday I met some of the 2000 refugees from Zimbabwe seeking refuge in the Central Methodist Church in Johannesburg. Their stories are harrowing: death of loved ones, threats to life and livelihood. The Bishop told me of an upsurge in the last week/ten days of orphans arriving at the church. (He also told me about teachers among the refugees setting up care and teaching for refugee children). I also saw the social strains arriving from the mass exodus of 2-3 million Zimbabweans into South Africa - in Alexandra township local residents at the scene of recent "xenophobic violence" talking about the danger posed to their society by foreigners.
Mugabe has never been weaker or more isolated yet his hold on the central institutions of state power - central bank, army command - mean he is not yet out of power. That makes the discussions at the UN this week especially important. Travel and financial sanctions on named members of the regime - plus an international arms embargo - would put the squeeze on the regime in a way that they have not been squeezed before.
Nine votes are needed ... without a veto from any of the permanent members of the UNSC.
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