Zimbabwe, which is a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council, went alongside Russia and China to oppose a motion to condemn the Syrian government’s crackdown on a 11-month old opposition uprising.
The council however adopted the motion to condemn “widespread and systematic violations” on citizens opposed to the regime after 37 countries overwhelmingly endorsed the resolution which called on Syria to stop attacks on civilians and to allow aid to reach those who need it without any hindrance.
Although the resolution carried no legal weight, only offering a strong moral signal against Damascus’s actions, by going against all the other peace-seeking countries, Zimbabwe sent a message to the rest of the world that it counts rogue regimes among its friends.
Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa, who represented Zimbabwe, said the Syrian people had to “peacefully resolve their differences without any foreign interference”, a statement that rang hollow when considering circumstances on the ground.
Chinamasa also repeated President Robert Mugabe’s mantra about the need for other countries to take “full cognisance of the sovereignty and territorial integrity” of Syria.
Mugabe, himself accused of widespread human rights violations, has on innumerable times, unsuccessfully sought to use “sovereignty and territorial integrity” to stop other countries from voicing concern about the human violations in the country.
Mugabe fears that intervention in Syria would continue the trend where the international community intervened and deposed Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi by force when he began to kill his own unarmed people.
The same international community is keeping an eye on Zimbabwe which has in the past acted similarly in the face a popular movement to change the Mugabe regime. Intervention in Syria would worry him and his cronies such as Chinamasa since it would be a clear signal that sovereignty no longer matters when dictators trample on the rights of their subjects with impunity or when they set the military on unarmed citizens tired of dictatorship.
Chinamasa and his crew need to reflect on this reality.