Today in Headlines We Thought We Misread: Zimbabwe Sends Peacekeepers To Syria

I learned today (h/t Peter Dörrie) that Zimbabwe is deploying military personnel to the United Nations Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS).

Know what country’s soldiers you’re definitely not picturing when you hear the term “UN peacekeepers”? That’s right, Zimbabwe.

I would think this was just another item to be filed under “Confusing Choices Made by the International Community in Handling the Syria Crisis” (see, e.g., sending an accused war criminal to head the Arab League observer mission), but Zimbabwe currently has military personnel in the UN missions to Darfur (UNAMID), Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), and Liberia (UNMIL), and police in South Sudan (UNMISS), Timor-Leste (UNMIT), and Liberia.

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (a major opposition force in Zimbabwe politics) has called on the United Nations to stop using Zimbabwe’s armed forces in its peacekeeping missions on the grounds that their human rights record renders them unfit for service. The army has most recently been accused of abuses against miners in the Marange diamond fields, while the police are alleged to have beaten and tortured civil society activists who viewed a video of the Arab Spring protests in 2011.

So this should definitely help the Department of Peacekeeping Operations with that whole catastrophic image problem thing…


Zimbabwe Government Just the Absolute Worst

Zimbabwe’s Justice and Legal Affairs Ministry may have set the new standard for taking a bad situation and making it so much worse.

In response to the problem of undernourishment in Zimbabwe’s chronically over-crowded and under-resourced prison system, the Ministry is apparently considering adding elephant meat to the jail lunch plan.  (Note that Mugabe has previously served elephant to his soldiers.)  Officials in favor of the plan argue that it would solve the prison food shortage while also addressing an elephant overpopulation crisis.  One problem:  according to conservation specialists, there is no elephant overpopulation issue in Zimbabwe.  While the government claims Zimbabwe has approximately 100,000 wild elephants, a representative of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force puts the number at closer to 35,000, and notes the importance of the animals to Zimbabwe’s tourism industry.

Just off the top of my head, I’d say a better plan for addressing the problem of insufficient food in prisons would be to stop arbitrarily locking up political dissidents, but you go ahead and do things your own way, lunatic Zimbabwe government.

Hattip to the Other Kate!

WTF Friday, 3/4/11

Zimbabwean man arrested for making harmless comment on Facebook. I’m thinking Facebook arrests should be based on quantity, not content, of posts. These randos from middle school blowin up my news feed know who they are…

Camping trip ’04? You guys have to to upload this album to FB already. It’s been like 7 years, bros…

Charlie Sheen and Sean Penn on their way to Haiti. Mr. Sheen, per usual, with a bizarre choice of words: “And I’m excited as hell because, you know, if I can bring the attention of the world down there, then clearly this tsunami keeps cresting.” Riiight…

WTF Friday (Err, Saturday), 2/19/11

Voting going pretty well in Uganda. Oh, except for this little incident. Gotta admit that is a pretty good prank, though.

Oxymoron of the week: “CNN interviews Bahrain’s special envoy to the U.S., Abdul Latif bin Rashid al Zayani, who says ‘we need to have dialogue … we need to calm down.’ He also said Bahrain’s king is ‘committed to democracy.'”

Somebody’s got a bday coming up! The folks from Reporters without Borders are definitely not getting invited: “The time when Zimbabwe was southern Africa’s breadbasket is long gone. No matter. Monday is his birthday. Like a boy, that’s all he can think about right now.” 87 and young at heart. What a guy.

WTF Friday, 1/21/11

Raise your hand if you thought this was about an actual volcano in Southern Sudan. Seriously though that’s a hot metaphor.

The title says it all: “Babies, the dead on voters roll.” People born in 1897 and lil babies born yesterday (well, 2007) are all ready to vote in Zimbabwe’s general election this year. This gives me an idea for a PSA, kind of a mix between Night of the Living Dead and Gummo warning about the dangers of voter fraud.
So apparently Baby Doc’s return to Haiti was more than just a nostalgic visit. He was actually trying to unlock a Swiss bank account worth $5.7 million. Guess he left his pin number on the nightstand? This gives me a good idea for Ocean’s Fourteen.

WTF Friday, 12/3/2010

Mind boggling results in the Ivory Coast presidential election. Alassane Ouattara, the opposition, won the most votes, but Laurent Gbagbo, has been declared the winner due to voting irregularities. The AP found at least one man who has been driven absolutely batshit by the turn of events.

Wikileaks has outted Christopher Dell, former US ambassador to Zimbabwe, for talking trash about Morgan Tsvangirai. Apparently the Zimbabwean Prime Minister is “not open to advice and indecisive.” Wikileaks, making “if you don’t have anything nice to say…” more relevant than ever before.
The same website has reported that the Latin American unity summit ended with Hugo Chavez and Alvaro Uribe nearly coming to blows over a dispute about border trade with Raul Castro playing peacemaker. Evo Morales somehow resisted getting a few knees in.

WTF Friday, 11/5/10

The military junta in Burma has decided to cancel elections in several regions populated by ethnic minorities, shunning the ever-popular dictatorial move of rigging elections. Nice. Way to cut out the middle man.

BBC has apologized to Bob Geldof for running a series of reports insinuating that Live Aid money has been used to purchase weapons. This was in March. It is now November. Timely. Especially considering that, according to the BBC, there is “no evidence for these statements.” I think they at least owe him a fruit basket.
Zimbabwe has reached the 5-peat for the lowest ranking on the UNDP Human Development Index despite the life expectancy for the country increasing from 37 to 47 since a few years ago. Kinda calls into question the whole point of this list…

WTF Friday, 10/29/10

Serbia has increased the reward for capturing Ratko Mladic to $14 million! Who will find him?!?

Morgan Tsvangirai has threatened to sue Robert Mugabe over what he believes to be unconstitutional appointments. However, Section 31 (K) of the Zimbabwean Constitution may prevent such action: “Where the President is required or permitted by this Constitution or any other law to act on his own deliberate judgment, a court shall not in any case inquire into any of the following questions or matter.” Kind of feel like that section needs to be tweaked a little bit…

Meanwhile, Mugabe is busy giving $300,000 to the Zimbabwean man who came in 2nd in “Big Brother Africa.” The donation has been described as “compensation for depression.” Let’s hope the aforementioned lawsuit doesn’t infringe on President Mugabe’s ability to support such obviously worthwhile causes.

WTF Friday, 10/15/10

So it seems the Bosnian government is not too psyched bout Angelina Jolie’s directorial debut. All of a sudden, I’m not either: “Bosnian press reported the movie would be a love story between a Muslim victim and her rapist, a Serb, causing outrage among victims’ groups.” Oh, that old storyline? (via Feministing).

Robert Mugabe is against extending the power-sharing deal with Morgan Tsvangirai as he believes some of the events happening under the coalition to be “foolish.” Uh, he would…

Hey, kids! Who’s excited for some reverse trick-or-treating?!?! File this under “things that are not fun or effective in any way.” And do they really need (free+shipping) kits for this shit??

WTF Friday, 8/20/10

  • In deportation news, the UK and France are going buck wild and looking to deport 20,000 Zimbabweans and 700 Roma, respectively. France has already moved forward with the plans while the UK is first performing a fact-finding mission. The mission is intended to assess the political and economic climate, but let’s hope it also assesses the real climate, which would push back the deportations until October when the UK is in the middle of Fall and Zimbabwe’s Summer begins. Upgrade!
  • Thanks to Kate for pointing me to this story on Southern Sudan planning to remake cities to look like animals. I was skeptical at first, but I was the same way when I heard they had cookies shaped like animals, and let’s just say I’ve been eating more than my words ever since.
  • Ok Brazil really needs to get a little tougher with its anti-slavery laws. I realize fining a company for keeping slaves on its ranches is better than turning a blind eye, but placing a monetary value on this kind of thing opens the door to a cost-benefit analysis on slave labor. Tell me someone’s not crunching these numbers right now.