I don’t think that I’ve ever gotten a comment on one of my Zimbabwe posts (on my old blog either), but it’s a situation I have always watched closely. It has always been one of the greatest mysteries (from my perspective) in the world of international affairs. Here is a nation with a nominally democratic government led by an 84 year-old dictator. Mugabe has a record of human rights abuses and brutal policies against his own people. But his major crime has been throwing his nation into poverty.
Zimbabwe was the bread basket of Africa in the 80s and 90s. Now they are inflicted with 100,000% inflation and 80+% unemployment. The black market is alive and well because stores have a major shortage of common goods. Farms, once owned by mainly whites, were seized and handed to Mugabe cronies and squatters who ran the once-prosperous enterprises into the ground. His major affront to the people of his nation is the economic devastation he has caused in this once-proud country.
Nevertheless, the people of Zimbabwe have tolerated this for many years. Granted, Mugabe did steal elections; however, the people showed very little desire to rise up against him, and the opposition remained impotent due to petty squabbling within their ranks. With the power of the rural constituency and his thugs in the military, Mugabe clung to power even as Zimbabwe was economically destroyed, and suffering swept across the nation.
Now, the opposition MDC party led by Morgan Tsvangirari has finally been able to put together a movement to evict Mr. Mugabe from his throne in Harare. Though still divided by infighting, the MDC patched together enough support to make Saturday’s elections a forceful mandate for change. The statement was so loud, in fact, that Mugabe could only stuff the ballot boxes enough to give him about 40-41% of the vote. I have no doubt that his totals were much lower (initial returns showed Tsvangirari with over 60% and 8-10% for the other independent candidate). And now it’s time for Mugabe to quit stalling and move on, as The Australian notes.
NOW that the people of Zimbabwe have spoken, the international community, in particular South Africa, should apply as much moral and economic pressure as possible to lever the evil madman Robert Mugabe out of power. Given the rebuilding task that awaits, virtually from ground zero, he should be made to go as soon as possible.
After 28 years of rule, Robert Mugabe needs to stop looking for ways to invalidate the results or squash the people as he did in 2002. Failure to step aside may result in violence like we saw in Kenya. Even attempting to claim that he qualifies for a run-off election with the MDC will only create a 3 week delay. During that time, the temperature will rise, and violence will only become more of a possibility.
It’s time for Mugabe to go. Even if MDC has to allow him to go quietly with immunity for past crimes, it would surely be better than allowing him to stay on or create chaos with his indecision. Good luck to the people of Zimbabwe. It will take a lot of work to rebuild this proud nation.