About Areas That Could Break Out Into War
8., 2008: President Robert Mugabe succeeded in driving his main
political opponent, Morgan Tsvangirai, from the presidential
election, with Tsnvagirai quitting just before the June 27 run-off
date. Now Mugabe is once again in control. He is nominally president,
but the trail of electoral thuggery and murder has left Mugabe with
no political cover.
is an affliction of many post-colonial nations. How do the old
revolutionaries and their cadres go? Must the nations wait for them
to die? Must they launch bloody rebellions? With the democratic path
thwarted, Tsvangirai and the Movement for Democratic Change decided
the price in innocent blood would be too steep.
to Mugabe within his own party has increased. In early August a joint
statement by the MDC and the ZANU-PF called for "an end to
violence." Political maneuvering and discussions proceed, with the
"Kenyan model" as an example of a national unity government.
That's possible – the determinative element will be the security
forces and just how loyal they remain to Mugabe. Mugabe may slowly
become a "ceremonial president" – his election recognized but
his power dissolving. That is one scenario.
the long, terrible twilight of Robert Mugabe continues. ( Austin Bay
2, 2008: A bomb exploded near a Harare police station. This spiked
tensions exacerbated by the stolen election, inciting fears that more
violence could erupt.
1, 2008: They call it "redenomination." It is also an exercise in
economic futility. Zimbabwe 's central bank dropped ten zeros (yes,
10) from the currency. Take 10,000,000,000 (ten billion) Zimbabwean
dollars. This is now one Zimbabwean dollar. The official inflation
rate is 2.2 million percent a year. Before the "big lop" a 100
billion Zimbabwean dollar had been issued. By the time it hit the
streets, the ten billion dollar bill could not quite buy a loaf of
bread. Zimbabwe is an economic disaster. Food shortages plague a
country that was once an agricultural success story.
21, 2008: The South African nation of Zimbabwe was once a
breadbasket. It is now a basket case. Tyranny has savaged Zimbabwe,
making the country yet another tragic example of a nation brutalized
by its own government, in its case the rapidly decaying regime of
a major regional food producer, today a substantial number of
Zimbabweans go hungry or leave. Since 2000 an estimated three million
Zimbabweans (nearly a quarter of the population) have fled to
neighboring nations, with South Africa a preferred destination.
Zimbabwe's economy is wretched beyond description. In late 2007 the
Zimbabwean government's own inflation data put the inflation rate
at 7,600 percent a year. Economic analysts outside of Zimbabwe rated
it as high as 15,000 percent. An IMF "forecast" said the real
rate could reach 100,000 percent or more. The statistical differences
were meaningless. Staples like meat, bread and cooking oil are not
available in retail grocery stores.
like so many post-colonial sub-Saharan African leaders, was a
successful rebel leader. He was also a professed Marxist. In 1979
Mugabe's Shona tribe-based rebel organization and allied rebel
groups (the coalition referred to itself as the Patriotic Front)
overthrew the white-run Republic of Rhodesia (formerly Southern
Rhodesia). However, in 1980, with the aid of North Korean military
advisers, Mugabe (a member of the Shona tribe) turned on his former
allies in the Matabele tribe. From seven to ten thousand Matabele
died in that brief war. No one has stepped forward to finance another
armed resistance. Guns cost money, and no one sees Zimbabwe worth
getting involved in. So Mugabe and his well armed Shona allies have
kept control, without armed opposition.
has shown a willingness to use his police forces and political
militias (like the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans
Association) to terrorize and occasionally murder political
opponents. One of his major targets has been the moderate and
democratic opposition group the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
the years, Mugabe's ZANU-PF (Zimbabwe African National
Union-Patriotic Front) Party has been a reliable prop for his regime.
However, as of 2008, there is increasing disenchantment within the
ZANU-PF coalition. The chief reason for the increasing opposition is
Zimbabwe's self-wrought economic destruction. Zimbabwe is one of
the worst economically managed countries on the planet. Mugabe has
devastated the what was once one of southern Africa's most
productive and comparatively wealthy nations.
national elections on March 29, 2008 have introduced a new dimension
of political conflict. The main opposition party (the MDC) put
forward Morgan Tsvangirai, who apparently won that election outright
– but the electoral commission, controlled by the Mugabe regime,
declared that Tsvangirai had not won a majority of the vote. The MDC
disputed this decision. A second round of elections are scheduled for
June 27. Mugabe has always maintained the forms of democracy, which
can be dangerous if you let the voters get out of hand.
Prize winner former Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa has
called for international peacekeepers to insure the elections are
fair and safe. Political pressure on Mugabe is building?primarily
from Europe and the US but increasingly from African nations. The MDC
has accused Mugabe of using the military and his militias to
intimidate opposition supporters. The MDC claims at least 40 of its
supporters have been killed since March 29. Moreover, they are
alleging that Mugabe is plotting to assassinate Tsvangirai.
Meanwhile, Mugabe fears his own followers, who see their own
prosperity and security threatened by the continuing implosion of the
economy. (Austin Bay)