Potential Hot Spots: March 29, 2005


Zimbabwe's heating up again prior to the elections scheduled for March 31. Tensions in the capital of Harare have increased dramatically. The Mugabe dictatorship has decided to attack Christian church leaders it holds responsible for "encouraging" street protests. The government is specifically going after Catholic bishop Pius Ncube. This clergyman has been a major critic of dictator Robert Mugabe. Ncube issued a statement that said the March 31 election will be "rigged"-- and of course, that will be the case. The Mugabe government is thoroughly corrupt. The Mugabe government recently imposed a law that makes "unauthorized demonstrations" a felony punishable by up to 20 years in jail. The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), the main opposition group, reports that threats of physical violence against regime opponents have increased. As the elections approach, the Mugabe government is trying to isolate the country as much as possible from foreign reporters by denying entry visas. All of these are tactics the dictatorship has used in the past. The big question remains what the opposition will do if Mugabe steals another election. If Zimbabwean democrats try a "Ukraine option," will South Africa provide the regional support and the EU the international support it will take to avoid a bloodbath? Likewise, violent strikes against protesters would test the Bush Administration's "pro-democracy" doctrine. (Austin Bay)


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