The Olympic factor!
Why China may finally agree to action against Mugabe
Leaders of the G8, the group of industrialised nations currently meeting in Japan, are calling for additional sanctions and United Nations action against the Mugabe regime in Zimbabwe - and this time even China may join in.
The G8, in a strongly worded statement, has demanded that new sanctions target individual Zimbabwean leaders, and for a special UN Security Council envoy to be sent to Zimbabwe to report on the situation.
In the past China could be expected to veto any such Security Council action. But observers now believe that it would not wish to appear so isolated on the world stage in the year that it is hosting the Olympic Games.
The G8 statement was remarkably plain and unequivocal. In part it read: "We do not accept the legitimacy of any government that does not reflect the will of the Zimbabwean people."
Russia's signature to the statement also marks a decided shift in that country's position. Previously it has refused to support sanctions against Zimbabwe.
The call for a UN mediator reflects a general opinion amongst the G8 nations that the efforts of South African president Thabo Mbeki, much derided within Zimbabwe, have been inadequate.
The G8 statement calls for specific sanctions against 12 individuals it believes are responsible for the violence that has characterised Mugabe's regime. The sanctions would include a block on all international travel, plus action to track down and freeze any assets they hold outside Zimbabwe.
Who are the 12? Moses Moyo has great pleasure in listing them, coupled with the warning that for them, the day of reckoning may finally be at hand:
Robert Mugabe, President. Constantine Chiwenga, Defence Forces commander. Emmerson Mnangagwa, rural housing minister. Gideon Gono, Reserve Bank head. Augustine Chihuri, police chief. Patrick Chinamasa, justice minister. Perence Shiri, Air Force chief. David Parirenyatwa, health minister. Didymus Mutasa, security and lands minister. George Charamba, presidential spokesman. Paradzi Zimondi, prison service chief. Happyton Bonyongwe, Central Intelligence Organisation head.