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New hope for Zimbabwe?

January 30, 2009

Zimbabwe’s opposition Movement for Democratic Change has agreed to join a unity government with President Robert Mugabe, breaking a crippling deadlock four months after the political rivals reached a power-sharing deal.

The decision could improve Zimbabwe’s prospects of recovering from economic collapse and easing a humanitarian crisis in which more than 60,000 people have been infected by cholera and more than half the population needs food aid.

Zimbabweans have long wished for a new leadership that can ease the world’s highest inflation rate and severe food, fuel and foreign currency shortages. Millions have fled the suffering to neighbouring countries, straining regional economies.

Western aid and financial assistance tied to the creation of a democratic government and economic reform could be crucial to rescuing what was once one of Africa’s most promising countries.

South Africa’s President Kgalema Motlanthe was optimistic and told Reuters in Davos that his country would help rebuild Zimbabwe.

But Senegal’s President Abdoulaye Wade and Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga cast doubt on whether the deal would work and said President Mugabe must go.

Will this decision work? Will it bring change and help ease the suffering of ordinary Zimbabweans? What do you think?


Whatever be the situation sleeping with the Devil is not going to solve anything. The world has to condemn the SADC for toeing the line of Mugabe. Now without the police and the army in hand there is a high chance that MDC will be suffocated and sidelined by Mugabe and his thugs. I hope it does not happen. Things are only going to get tougher for Tsvangirai.

Posted by Kris.. | Report as abusive

Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga says Mugabe must go? Excuse me? Kenya? While the Western world was paying attention to Zimbabwe, literally thousands of people were slaughtered by machete & bullets in election violence there. Kenyans, by the millions, are suffering from hunger & disease – not to mention continuing widespread violence.. The last Kenyan election was stolen. You’d think Kenya would be one of the last countries to point fingers at corruption, violence, election theft, but Mr. Odinga is without an ounce of shame. Who owns most of the land in Kenya? The Kenyatta family owns 500,000 acres. How’s that for corruption? Other members of the ruling class, along with their British landlords, divvy up MOST of the arable land. MOST of it. Today, Kenyans are extremely hungry. The UN has officially labeled the food situation in Kenya as “catastrophic.” Yet Odinga has the energy and time to lecture Zimbabwe. Where is the shame? What nerve. The hands of the Kenyan ruling class is awash in blood, yet this hideous creature Odinga has the audacity to look beyond the borders of Kenya at what’s wrong.

Posted by Raymond J | Report as abusive

While this may be a way to calm the polilitical hostilities between the two groups, Mugabe has driven hs country into the ground, the people of Zimbabwe have spoken, and he must go. A power sharing deal only allows Mugabe to continue to flex his muscle on issues that he has continued to fail on throughout the last decade. The governments of the countries that surround Zimbabwe need to pressure him to step down, as it is best for the country and its people.

Posted by Mplsun | Report as abusive

There is no way the deal is going to work. Mugabe must face his crimes while in office. Just imagine, entire villages vanished — people their belongings and livestock were thrown into disused mine shafts, so as to clear any evidence of genocide. How is he going to account for more than 20 000 people he killed in Matabeleland? A lot of MDC members have been murdered by Mugabe. Tsvangirai himself was severely beaten up by Mugabe’s police. Their hatred is so immense that they can’t work together.


Before we go as far as Zimbabwe, let us turn to our backyard here. There is a dictator that has been in power for 27 years. He is 76 years old. He has crafted a plan for another constitutional amendment that would enable him stay for another seven years in power when his current tenure in office expires by 2011. He is President Paul Biya of Cameroon.

I am sure you don’t hear of Cameroon except the subject is football or barrels of crude oil to be fought for in Bakassi. Biya runs a totalitarian regime in Cameroon – a recluse government reminiscent of North Korea.

Sharing the same border with Cameroon is Garbon, the home of another fascist, Omar Bongo. Born in 1935, President Omar Bongo has been in power since 1967! He has zero tolerance for opposition. In line with 1990s democracy trend in Africa, he played to the gallery by allowing the existence of other parties but in actual fact, maintained his ruthless hold on power, using the machinery of state against the opposition.

A stone throw from Ghana is Burkina Faso, where the blood-thirsty Blaise Compaore has been holding court since 1987. Blaise Compaore had killed his best friend, boss and Head of State, Thomas Sankara, in a bloody coup in 1987. He is to Burkina Faso what Saddam Hussein was to Iraq.

Moving up North in Africa, you have Egypt. President Hosni Mubarak is 80 years old. He has been in power for 28 years. He has appropriated all the appurtenances of power – to the exclusion of none – in order to maintain his stranglehold on power. He is scheduled to die in office.

Libya is beside Egypt. Col. Muammar al- Gaddafi clocks 40 in power this year! To him, Libya and Gaddafi are one and the same. Fundamental rights of citizens are as defined and approved by the god of Libya.

Calling the shots for the past 22 years in the enclave of Uganda is Yoweri Museveni. His style of governance is not different from those mentioned above: Eliminate or incarcerate every opposition, stifle the press and hound others into exile.

These are the samples of African leaders the whole world was expecting to call the tyrant and international nuisance, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, to order at the African Union Summit held in August 2008 in Egypt…

Elections had been held in Zimbabwe – a once prosperous state that had been reduced to a prostrate state, where the highest currency denomination worths less than a tissue paper, courtesy of the brigandage of the 85 -year old war horse, Robert Mugabe, that had held the reins of power for 28 years – on March 29th, 2008 in which the opposition, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) won. But Mugabe, who cocooned the electoral commission, ensured the results were not released weeks after they were held until they were doctored to ensure the party did not win absolute majority that would foreclose a run-off.

The run-off was to hold on June 27th amidst calls for its postponement while the AU Summit was scheduled for August 1. But Mugabe addressed a campaign rally on June 26th in Chitungwiza, south of Harare, where he issued this warning: “I know some people are gearing themselves for an attack on Zimbabwe. I want to see any country which will raise its finger in the AU…”

And which country could raise its finger? Egypt? Cameroon or Libya? The summit ended with the usual rhetoric on Zimbabwe – a call for dialogue!

At last, those who dismissed the inauguration of African Union in Durban, South Africa on Tuesday, July 9, 2002 as an old wine in new bottle, must by now be having a damn good laughter. At its inception in 1963, the Organisation for African Unity (OAU) became a combative tool against colonization. But it soon transmogrified to association of military bandits and political predators that seized the machinery of governance by force of arms and sleight of hand only to subjugate the citizens and inflict on them horrendous pains and sufferings proportional to those of the departed colonial exploiters.

Today, Zaire (now DRC) is still in the throes of wars after decades of depredations unleashed on the nation by the sit-tight and cupid Mubuto Sese- Seko. Liberia is still trying to get back on an even keel after nearly two decades of needless fratricidal wars foisted on the nation by the power-thirsty and illiterate Samuel Doe. Somalia has failed completely as a state, without any hope of recovery for its people…

Yes, military government is no longer the fad. But civilian governments can perpetuate themselves through rigging of elections and tawdry constitutional amendments that turn republics into virtual monarchies. The AU has provided the weird platform: Rig first, hold on to power, and then negotiate with the opposition. It does not matter the volume of blood sacrificed in the process or the number of mouths to be fed at the government table. Africa is a crying shame to civilization.

The concept of absolute sovereignty or non-interference in internal affairs of independent nations has never stood the test of practice. Sooner than later, a restive state erupts into crisis or full-blown war and other nations of the world are called upon to share in the attendant troubles and agonies. Positive and timely intervention in the domestic affairs of restive states could help save the world from the horrors of this age and make it a better place for all.

A cholera epidemic in Zimbabwe – where the economy (inflation of over two million percent!), sanitary systems and health services have collapsed – has already claimed about 3000 lives and infested over 16,000 people. Yet, Mugabe and his sybaritic officials, backed by the military and government militias, continue to wallow in plenty while hunger ravages the country.

Relevant Links
Central Africa
Southern Africa
A war situation already exists in Zimbabwe – citizens are dying in thousands due to cholera, hunger and attacks by Mugabe’s militias while others, also in thousands, are fleeing to neighbouring countries in seach of security… I advocate and support any intervention force (not coup-makers) designed to remove the likes of Mugabe from seats of power in Africa. I also call for a charter of of the African Union that sets a maximum of 10-year rule for any president of an African nation. No person has the monopoly of wisdom to govern his country.

*This piece was written in December, the cholera epidemic has since worsened.

Posted by limnothrissa | Report as abusive

A unity government with Robert Mugabe is an illusion.


Get rid of Mugabe and his thugs from this unfortunate Country. That would be the primary requirement for any improvement in the situation in Zimbabwe. Bathi

Posted by N.Bathir | Report as abusive

First of all it comes to me as surprise what causes Tsvangirai to join hands with Robert Mugabe..Was it any kind of pressure?Well who knows…But the fact is misanthrope like Mugabe must have something here too for him.

Posted by sudhir | Report as abusive

“But Senegal’s President Abdoulaye Wade and Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga cast doubt on whether the deal would work and said President Mugabe must go.”

This has to be one of the more obvious political conclusions that we can make.


Zimbabwe has been over this point time and time again. Mugabe has no intention of sharing power with the MDC or anyone else — as his refusal to leave office as shown. He lost the election and still pretends to be the country’s legitimate president! Meanwhile, Zimbabwe literally falls apart. Read more on my blog, Views from the Left Coast (http://viewsfromtheleftcoast.blogspot.c om).


Mistake, nothing will change and nobody should think it will change. Everyone knows why and so it’s not necesary to say why.

Posted by buffalojump | Report as abusive

Mugabe could have gone out a hero to his country. Now he’ll be remembered as the one who destroyed it.

Posted by jimbo | Report as abusive

The MDC have been left with very few options. SADC is a club of dictators and their policy is never to allow an opposition party to remove any revolutionary party from power in the region. Angola, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania have all retained leaders from within the parties that gained independence. Whilst Mugabe may have embarrassed the organization, SADC will not abandon him because this will set a precedent for the removal of the rest of these rotten apples. The only way to remove any of these parties that came to power by the bullet is to use the same methods to remove them. Democracy does enter into it, it is merely a smoke screen that the rest of the world is happy not to see through. Zimbabwe is merely the curtain raiser for the main event. South Africa’s bitter battle for democracy is about to begin because the ANC will never give up what they believe is the right to rule for ever and the battle heats up there will be more radical utterances coming from Zuma and his cohorts.

Posted by James R | Report as abusive

Sincerely do you expect a socioeconomic change from MDC? Nothing will come from MDC or Tsvangirai. Please give Mr President Mugabe a nice and honorable break. Mr President Mugabe is a patriotic and african heroe who fights all his lifespan for the welfare of Zimbabwean people. Tsvangirai is a fragile puppet of the West disconnected with african reality of today. As a puppet of the West, Tsvangirai lost touch with Zimbabwean people. He is acting like we live in 1960. BRAVO President Mugabe.

Posted by Pay | Report as abusive

Its a pity that the SADC leaders do not share the same views of the public whose interest they serve (especially south africa)The question is for whose gain are these decesions made certainly not for the villagers in rural zimbabwe who are forced to “pungwes” and dont get food aid unless they have a zanupf membership card .Guns rule in africa those in charge of guns ie police army or militia own the country unless mdc control these parts of the economy they will have no power and be blamed by mugabe for the countrys’ problems

Posted by gary | Report as abusive

Mugabe will work with the MDC. He will form a unity government and keep control of key positions.

Eventually UN aid and assistance will increase. The country will be able to deal with its economic and health problems.

Then, eventually, Mugabe will no longer have need to cooperate with the MDC. He will arrest them as traitors and have them arrested or killed.

It has happened before and will happen again. And the African Union would rather this happen, rather then admit what a human rights embarassment Africa is to the world.

Posted by John Smith | Report as abusive

Personally i dont think Mugabe is willing to help the country’s ailing economy.He should just resign if at all he want to heal the country

Posted by Judy Towett | Report as abusive

Mr. Raila has all the moral authority to demand that Mugabe must go. Whoever states that he shouldn’t hasn’t followed the political history of Kenya. From the struggle to Kenya’s independence in which his father was short changed, the 2002 Narc revolution, the orange-banana battle to safe guard the interests of the Kenyan people for a such for a genuine constitution, to 2007s election he and his father have been fighting for the interests of the Kenyan people.

Did he rig the 2007 election? Was he mentioned any where to have played a central role in the post election violence?

One needs to get facts right before he condemns one of Africa’s visionary leaders.

Posted by TWAHA SSENFUKA | Report as abusive

Mugabe should be removed from power by international comunity, with blessings of African states. IInocent people are suffering and he is enjoying with power.


Posted by Essak Dada | Report as abusive

When Mugabe remained in power even after losing an election he failed to rig properly, he knew the World and the region were powerless to prevent his single – handed destruction of his own Nation.

His contempt for world and civilized standards started in the early/mid ’80 s of the previous century when he slaughtered 1000 s of Matabeles and the wholesale murder hardly reached the attention of Southern Africa, never mind the world.

25 years on and we expect him to bow to a lot of media yapping with no tangible action against him? How many mini – despots are inspired by this tolerance of dictatorship?

We reasonable Africans are ashamed by our and the rest of the worlds’ lack of resolve and we mourn those unreported and daily deaths in our “African Renaissance”

The culprit? Mugabe hardly disguised his contempt for a discussion about himself in Johannesburg most recently by openly dozing during the forum.

“When will we ever learn?”

Posted by Karl | Report as abusive

Not one of the above comments urging Mugabe to step down or the SADC to push him seems to have the slightest idea of political realities on the ground in Zimbabwe.

Whether you like it or not Mugabe is the head of parliament’s biggest single party faction – according to the credible March 2008 parliamentary poll – and continues to enjoy the support of the security chiefs.

The MDC has to work with him to alleviate the immediate humanitarian crisis. That is the priority – not the self-aggrandizing ‘get tough’ prescriptions proposed by the contributors above whose adoption by the west has resulted in a) zero political change and b) catalysed social and economic collapse.

This is not to remove ultimate responsibility from Mugabe. But it is time for armchair critics to grow up and, more crucially, for the MDC to get smart. Once in power they must expand their political space within state institutions, including ‘levelling the playing field’ ahead of the next presidential poll.

Any chance of free and fair elections and Mugabe will be pushed out beforehand; ZANU PF instincts for self-preservation trump those of (misguided) loyalty.

Posted by Christopher 1983 | Report as abusive

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