Sanctions for Zimbabwe would only harm struggling people

Regarding Robert I. Rotberg's Dec. 4 Opinion piece, "Commonwealth snub of Mugabe a good start on regime change": I, too, would like to see President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa condemn President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe outright.

But I question the suggestion that South Africa could cut off electricity and petrol to Zimbabwe. This would bring even more suffering to the people of Zimbabwe. Sanctions were valid in South Africa during apartheid because a significant movement which credibly represented the people asked for them. This is not the case when it comes to cutting off power to Zimbabwe - we have heard no calls from credible people representing the masses for this action.

I have family in Zimbabwe, so I have reason to know just how bad the suffering in that country is.
Mandi Kraft
Johannesburg, South Africa

While I generally agree with the premise that President Mugabe brought this "ban" upon himself based on perceptions of internal lawlessness, a point needs to be made that there is a racial component to the Zimbabwe issue.

Although I have been opposed to Mr. Mugabe since the days of the massacres in Matabeleland, his program of redistribution of land to the people should never be seen as insignificant. Many Mugabe opponents got on the bandwagon and resurrected previous issues of human rights (on which they were silent for many years). If land had been taken away from black farmers, no such outcries would be heard.

To accuse President Mbeki of South Africa of failing to challenge Mugabe is to deny him the right to interpret events in his region independently. Most nonwhite members of the Commonwealth are opposed to Mugabe's exclusion.

Yes, pressure has been exerted on President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria but that does not mean that he agrees with Britain and Australia, the biggest Mugabe critics.

Despite being politically opposed to Mugabe, I support his land-reform program 100 percent. I support his courage to stand up against neocolonialism.
Scotch M. Ndlovu
Bowie, Md.

Recyclers forgotten in tariff debate

Regarding the Dec. 5 article, "Big Steel's surprise comeback": I keep hearing about the steelworkers and the effects of the tariffs on the makers of steel products, but there is a another group that has been devastated by cheap imported steel.

Before tariffs, steel recyclers in this country were completely shut down and going out of business.

My father's junkyard has more than 200 cars stacked in it. Everyone talks about recycling and the environment, but ignores this problem.

Carl Vandevender
West Lafayette, Ind.

Hidden taxes

The Dec. 1 David R. Francis column, "US moves - quietly - toward a flat tax," does not take into account the taxes all Americans are paying in the price of every new product and service we are buying.

Research shows that the hidden taxes (the payroll tax, income tax, and compliance costs associated with the income tax system) are built into the price we as consumers pay for goods and services, making them from 20 to 30 percent higher than they would otherwise be for everything you buy.
Harvey Abernethy
Knoxville, Tenn.

Correction: Because of a production error, the last line of Monday's editorial "Middle East Ends and Means" (Dec. 8) was cut off. It should have read: "For any Middle East vision, peace is in the final details, not just in how to get there."

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