Slow goodbye

2008-05-03 00:00

THE surest sign that President Robert Mugabe is a spent force is that he was unable to rig the recount of votes to his advantage. It was good to learn this week that the partial recount of votes cast in last month’s presidential election in Zimbabwe endorses the previous tally: votes for the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) exceed those for Mugabe’s Zanu-PF.

Some interesting points emerged. First is that despite the ruinous effect of Mugabe’s regime, the MDC’s winning margin was quite small: many voters still opted for the Zanu-PF. Why was this? Misguided loyalty? Intimidation? Brainwashing? Habit? A continued belief in Mugabe’s mystique? The second, much more positive, point is that now the MDC is in control of the country, its two factions, headed, respectively, by Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara, have resolved to work together in the national interest.

Another clear sign that the fight has gone out of Mugabe is that he has agreed not only to contesting, but says he will accept the result of the run-off that must now follow the result of the presidential poll that gave Tsvangirai 47,8% and Mugabe 43,2% of the vote. According to Cheikh Tidiane Gadio, who met with Mugabe on Thursday, the need to “take the path of conciliation and reconciliation” was agreed, and Mugabe accepted the way forward “in good faith and with the firm will to accept the will of the people delivered in a free and fair election”.

This is in strong contrast to the blood thirsty vitriol that characterised his pre-election position and many will hope that it represents his first, reluctant step to conceding defeat.

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