Wednesday, June 4, 2008

A sad day for Zimbabwe, and no one really cares.

Morgan Tsvangirai was arrested today.

He is the leader of the current opposition party of Zimbabwe, and his party won resoundingly in the recent elections. He got more votes than current President-cum-Dictator Robert Mugabe, but neither candidate got over 50% of the vote. That is if you believe Mugabe's government's count. Tsvangirai claims get got 50.6% and doesn't need to engage in a run-off.

Upon seeing that Mugabe wouldn't just let him take over, Tsvangirai slowly moderated his position from saying that he won and would be denying it by engaging in a run-off versus Mugabe to his current one in which he would probably engage and would definitely win if the vote was fair.

Mugabe's men took weeks to release the election results, which were almost certainly tampered with. Now they have tried to purchase large quantities of weapons from China to enforce their rule. Opposition-friendly areas are being terrorized and community leaders harassed or beaten. The only hope I could see to a quick end was Tsvangirai's return (he was out-of-country to avoid assassination) and election victory.

Now Tsvangirai has been arrested without charges and is being held by Mugabe's government.
This is what happened last time he was arrested (inset of Robert Mugabe)

Zimbabwe is not South Africa, and SA still has its problems. But it is one of the most outstanding countries in Africa and I believe Zimbabwe has such potential as well. The first step to change is the removal of Mugabe and his cronies. The run-off election is scheduled for June 27th. I wouldn't be surprised is Mugabe held him until that date, then declared some bogus charge against Tsvangirai and invalidated the run-off, saying people can't vote for a convicted and imprisoned felon.

Until now, I still saw a way out for Zimbabwe. Now, with this arrest and mounting attacks on opposition supporters (some 30 have been killed) I am saddened to know that Zimbabwe will not be free this year. Its people may have to wait for Mugabe's death or the next election - which is six years away. In my estimation only three countries can truly change the course: South Africa, the USA and China.

China will not act against Mugabe. South Africa is slowly growing more confrontational - a good sign - and the incoming leadership is sometimes openly hostile to Mugabe. The USA does not seem to show an interest foreign policy-wise. This is, I believe, a mistake. If the USA wishes to spead democracy, a little well-placed pressure on China and South Africa could turn the situation around. While Americans bicker about whether democracy can or should be spread by force, they ignore a situation where some diplomacy could depose an illegitimate leader from power without the use of military force. This is, I should hope, something that all Americans can agree on.

I want Zimbabwe to be free - it is a moral good and will also massively increase the living conditions of the population. I don't want to have to wait another five years or more. I have been following the situation closely since before the 2002 elections. Each time, Mugabe hangs onto power because no other country will deal with him harshly enough. I am tired of waiting. If I could ask the Presidential candidates one questions, it would be "How do you plan to uphold democracy in Zimbabwe?"

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

of the 3 countries that can change the way zimbabwe acts are china,SA, and the USA. I can't speak for SA but the USA and China haven't done great jobs in vote counting either

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