Yes, the sanctions against North Korea really are working. African dictators are now being denied their kitsch Mansudae statues. From the Times (£):
Conscious that at 93, Robert Mugabe may not serve a full term if he wins next year’s presidential election in Zimbabwe, officials ordered two statues to be erected in his honour when he dies. The problem is that they are stuck in North Korea, unlikely victims of the latest sanctions against Pyongyang.
The two giant bronze effigies were meant to be erected in Mr Mugabe’s home district of Zvimba and in the nation’s capital, Harare.
They were commissioned from a North Korean statue maker, Mansudae Art Studio, whose socialist-realist monuments are spread across the pariah state but have also become a common sight in Africa, where they offered imposing commemorations of the continent’s strongmen for a knockdown price.
Now Mansudae has been caught up in the attempt to bring North Korea into line with the “most stringent” sanctions so far, after Kim Jong-un detonated a hydrogen bomb.
The statue manufacturer was named in an asset freeze for helping North Korea get foreign currency to expand its weapons programme. Any countries, or companies, dealing with Mansudae risk having their assets frozen.
Sources in the Zimbabwean government said that the monuments to Mr Mugage were paid for upfront and constructed shortly after commission — they are now mothballed in Mansudae’s company headquarters in Pyongyang.
Ibbo Mandaza, a Zimbabwean political scientist, said a plinth had been prepared on one of Harare’s main thoroughfares where a statue of Cecil Rhodes once stood. “Mugabe cares about these things, whatever he says about rejecting the cult of personality,” he said. “They are naming Harare airport after him too. They will have to commission something local now. There’s no limit to their madness.”
Mansudae’s sudden isolation has caused dismay in capitals around Africa where post-colonial leaders have been immortalised and important buildings and monuments built with a North Korean flavour. Namibia’s Tardis-like state house is one the company’s best-known projects, along with the 50m (164ft) African Renaissance Monument outside the Senegalese capital, Dakar.
Here's the African Renaissance Monument:
It was not well received, with local imams complaining about the immodesty of the semi-naked figures. Perhaps it's just as well we're not going to see the Mugabe statues.
One of them - the one destined for Harare - is 10 metres tall, and reputedly cost $3.5 million. $5 million the pair. Oh well. It's money Zimbabwe can easily afford to write off - as the many grateful beneficiaries of the country's extraordinary economic boom under Mugabe's enlightened leadership will readily attest.
North Korea and Zimbabwe go way back. The North-Korean-trained Fifth Brigade was despatched to Matabeleland, rival Joshua Nkomo's heartland, and, during the course of what came to be known as Gukurahundi, massacred something like 20,000 civilians as Mugabe consolidated his grip on power. As the man said, "ZAPU and its leader, Dr. Joshua Nkomo, are like a cobra in a house. The only way to deal effectively with a snake is to strike and destroy its head."
After Nkomo's death, once he was safely out of the way, he was declared a national hero, and a memorial statue was erected in Bulawayo. By Mansudae Studios, of course.