MDC's dilemma

2008-06-23 00:00

MORGAN Tsvangirai and the MDC were faced with a horrible choice: either to go through with the charade of an election run-off, hoping that the backlash against the violence and intimidation unleashed by what are supposed to be the forces of law and order and Zanu-PF thugs would ensure victory, or pull out because the attacks on MDC supporters had become too high a price to pay.

Most people will probably judge that in withdrawing Tsvangirai has taken the wiser course because under the present circumstances any election could in no sense whatsoever be deemed to be either free or fair.

But what does this on say about the leadership of the other states of the subcontinent? What has been happening in Zimbabwe has only occurred because President Robert Mugabe, like some ill-disciplined and naughty child, knows that he can get away with behaving as he has been doing. The record of South Africa under President Thabo Mbeki, both an immediate neighbour and the most powerful state in the region, has been especially dismal.

It is ironic that apartheid South Africa was able to pull the plug on the Ian Smith regime and bring it to the negotiating table in quick time. With that example, there is absolutely no doubt that Zimbabwe’s neighbours, collectively if not separately, had the power to exert meaningful pressure on the dictator if they had had the will to do so. But that political will was tragically lacking. Instead of action to topple the tyrant, we have had mealy-mouthed platitudes about “the leadership coming to some agreement about what happens to their country”.

Years of appeasement — this is now the third time the outcome of an election has been falsified — have merely entrenched Mugabe, while even the mildest criticism now produces ever more childish responses. Sadly and ironically, given the feebleness of the way he has been dealt with, there is probably some truth in Mugabe’s claim that only God can remove him.

Related Articles:

MDC quits violent run-off

Zimbabwe cuts its loses

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