Failed state

2008-12-06 00:00

The past week has seen a further acceleration of Zimbabwe’s collapse. Soldiers unable to cash their wages have gone on the rampage, while the authorities, unable to purify Harare’s water, had to shut down the supply. With the cholera death toll rising, doctors and nurses protesting the situation were charged at by riot police while teachers were prevented from joining the demonstration. After years of assurances from Thabo Mbeki that there was no crisis in Zimbabwe, the reality is undeniable and other African leaders, such as Kenyan prime minister Raila Odinga, are making more realistic assessments of Robert Mugabe’s dictatorship and its consequences.

As those consequences assume increasingly tragic proportions, both neighbours such as South Africa and international agencies such as Oxfam are poised to proffer help. It is of course ironic that the international agencies most willing and able to bring aid to Zimbabwe’s people are based in the countries that Mugabe most blames for his self-induced calamity. It remains a concern that in his arrogantly myopic pride he will take that as a reason to resist the one step needed to open his country up to outside assistance — an admission that help is needed.

It is an even more profound irony that in a supposedly democratic country, where the government is meant to be directed by the will of the people to serve their own interests, a stolen election has created a situation where the Zimbabwean people need to be rescued from their own elected leader.

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