The Mugabe factor

2008-04-05 00:00

THE past week has been a great one for Zimbabwe despite the ongoing uncertainty. many Zimbabwean shares have risen; entrepreneurs have flocked into the country looking for bargains; the world has shown an interest in embracing the country and rehabilitating it.

It’s been a great week, too, for the MDC which, despite having a skewed electoral system loaded against it and in favour of the governing Zanu-PF, and despite the disenfranchisement of millions of exiles, has nevertheless won a majority of seats in parliament.

But President Robert Mugabe remains the X-factor. Had the electoral playing fields been level, there is little doubt that he would have been convincingly defeated. It’s hard for the outside world to probe what has been happening. Will he cling obstinately to power, even if he can’t be quite so authoritarian with a hostile legislature? Will he see the writing on the wall and go gracefully? Will there be a run-off election — which should take place within a fortnight? Will he “fix” the outcome if there is one? Will he attempt to cow the nation? Who might the supporters of Simba Makoni support in the event of a second presidential poll? Might the MDC’s success in the parliamentary elections unleash a dam-burst of support for its leader Morgan Tsvangirai?

These are at present unanswered questions. But what happens in the next few days will

either round off a victory for democracy — or scupper it.

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