When non-interference becomes a criminal act

07 Jul 2019

Unfortunately, not stopping a crime is not a crime. I have no obligation to call the police or alert anyone when I see a person or persons trying to break into any building.

As I walk by and witness a murder, it is not a crime to mind my own business and continue walking.

It is not my damn concern to jump into a violent, blood-soaked pool, in which people are strangling, knifing and drowning each other and help, nor is it a legal obligation for me to summon help or alert the police.

It is not a crime to watch people killing each other and not intervene or report it to any authority. Non-intervention is a person’s declaration that even if something is wrong, it is not their problem.

For one person to repeatedly see another physically abusing a person day after day, months and months and years after years and not do ‘something’ about it is heinous.

We have this thing called, in my Karanga language, vunhu, or hunhu, which is also generally referred to as ‘ubuntu’ in some areas in the southern African region.

This is the decency in responsibility that every African individual is born to uphold wherever they are. This is why any elder person can punish children not his own; this is why a schoolteacher can give orders to a pupil who lingers too long at a township into late afternoon or early evening.

We are born with responsibility on our shoulders. It is not physical but it is in starting or directing authority to some happening that we might deem to be out of line.

We were born with this in-built sense to protect and help each other along, especially strangers.

In the years gone by in our culture, strangers were accorded the highest respect as they passed through. They were not penalized for minor misbehaviors because they ‘do not know our ways’.

And when strangers bonded, they became ‘tight’, in today’s jargon. Friendships brought people closer together than blood relationships.

People were always looking out for each other. That was expected. That was decency. That was what villagers did for each other, just as a pride of lions will protect and defend a cub in the presence or absence of the mother.

We see a pride of lions protecting its young just as much as a memory of elephants protects its young, any young, within its community. And we all know how vicious a troop of baboons gets to be if there is a young one a yard or two away from its mother’s reach.

When the African Union keeps quiet on the wrongs being committed by individual countries, they are behaving irresponsibly less than that troop of baboons we talked about earlier. A troop of animals that believes in sacrificing itself to save one member of its community.

The things that happen in Africa with the African Union maintaining an embarrassing silence cannot be allowed to continue.

The African Union, which gave itself a new name for the old Organisation of African Unity (OAU), has not changed in any way, except for new faces that have no idea or intention of improving the organization.

If we consider that in the Domestic Jurisdiction Clause in the OAU Charter, one of the boldest declarations member states agreed to was “to declare and affirm their adherence to the principle of ‘non-interference in the internal affairs of states”, where shall we find nations that look out for each other. Then, what was the purpose of the organisation’s existence?

Let us waste no time talking about the African Union, it is the same old OAU which gives silent approval to the abuse of Africans by both Africans and foreigners.

The African Union is the middleman in the trade of sorrow and abuse of Africa and its people.

African governments are conspicuous in military spending. But it takes foreign troops to be peacekeepers in African conflicts. At least, foreign troops literally bring together soldiers from different African countries and make them guard their own. When it comes from outside Africa, it is “non-interference in the internal affairs of states”.

The AU is always there to make noise on meaningless political issues but mumble inaudibly when armed conflicts arise – such as the deadly military confrontations we see today in Libya and the people’s uprising in Sudan.

This deplorable behavior was also adopted by the so-called Southern Africa Development Community which wipes droplets of blood from its face every day as mayhem continues in the DR Congo and as a nation of innocents is abused every hour by an ignorant government that is completely lost as to what to do with the starving people in Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe’s problem is internal. The contestants are Zimbabwean and they are all in Zimbabwe.                                                                                                                 

Much as I dislike foreign intervention, Zimbabwe makes non-interference become a criminal act because the abuse of the people, which started decades ago, is allowed to continue to this day.

It is obvious external pressure, or intervention, is needed to bring the antagonistic leaders together.

There should, by now, have been an effort by the African Union or SADC to intervene and force the recalcitrant government into observing both political and economic decency for the sake of the people, not to mention neighbouring countries.

Through its brutality, which seems to increase by the day, Zimbabwean rulers have shown that preserving life and bringing relief to the people are not its priorities.

People have suffered for decades but no AU has tried to bring sanity to the rulers. For years, people have starved with SADC not raising a single word in protest.

There is no doubt that Zimbabwe needs some help for the sake of the suffering masses. Africa cannot allow this to continue. Something must be done, especially that the government is using guns on people who dare cry out in expression of pain that the government itself is inflicting.

It seems to me that non-interference has become a criminal act much worse than interference.