By: Chris Burke
The monarchy is antiquated, out-of-touch, and repugnant to the idea of a democracy. According to a recent poll, many Canadians are starting to show a dislike for the monarchy with 59% suggesting they have some problems with it. However, the point of this post isn’t to critique the monarchy (as much as I would enjoy it, and it would draw the ire of some 1837 readers if I did). Instead, I want to draw attention to the furor that arose last month over the awarding of the Queen’s Jubilee medal to two convicted criminals, known for harassing women seeking abortions (CBC). For a country that has less and less interest in the monarchy these days, there sure is a fuss over awarding the medal to these individuals that’s because the medals are about more than the Queen, they are about celebrating Canadians. We’ll start with a brief look at the monarchist reasons for this celebration before turning to the reasons more relatable to the average Canadian.
The Jubilee celebration is about commemorating a milestone in a monarch’s rule (Source). The purpose is religious in origin though I think I’m safe in saying that, for the most part, such a fact is lost on most today. Last I checked Justin Beiber (a medal recipient) is hardly a royal or a saint, unless George III had a thing for overalls. Further, “The Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal is a tangible way for Canada to honour Her Majesty for her service to this country” (Source). The controversy over awarding the medal to two convicted criminals seems to have very little to do with the first reason giving out the medals. Few may care about the monarchy today, but they do care about Canada.
The announcement on 23 July 2012 by the European Union (EU) and Australia to end sanctions on Zimbabwe with the exception of those against President Robert Mugabe has come as a late achievement for Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). The latter figure began his toughly attained leadership in 2008 with hopes that renewed cooperation between his party and Mugabe’s Zanu-PF (Patriotic Front) could foster fresh economic recovery and international investment in his country. Unfortunately for the Zimbabwean people and his party, the international community has remained rightly mistrusting of Mugabe’s continuing presidency.
Numerous individual accounts from within Zimbabwe and the region portray the President, his party, and vast domestic intelligence apparatus as one with absolutely no tolerance for dissent and an easy willingness to use armed force to crush such opposition. Indeed, this characteristic of his leadership was evident at the very start of his term in the early 1980s when he fought off his original rival, Joshua Nkomo. However, Western governments, in particular the UK, have not always taken the heavy-handed attitude towards the Zimbabwean government as they have over the past decade. Some have attributed this to their sympathy with Mugabe as the leader having helped end Ian Smith’s Rhodesian government, which had frustrated London in 1976 with its unilateral declaration of independence. However, a more robust analysis reveals a certain ambivalence on the part of the Commonwealth to the effects of their policies on Zimbabwe’s economy, politics and people.
The purpose of this article is to determine the degree of involvement that can and should be applied by Commonwealth governments towards bringing about political change and economic recovery in Zimbabwe. It does so by examining the stance taken by US administrations to Mugabe’s regime over the past decade, the shifting rhetoric and policies pursued by Commonwealth governments over the past thirty years and the role played by South African leaders in bolstering the Zanu-PF regime. Ultimately, it becomes clear that a more consistent and thoughtful destabilisation of Zanu-PF by the Commonwealth combined with the EU has been and remains the most viable means to help Mugabe’s rivals revitalise Zimbabwean prosperity.