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Mugabe Attempts to Beat Zimbabwe into Submission
May 8, 2008 6:59 AM   Subscribe

"'If voters fail to return Mr. Mugabe to office...Prepare to be a war correspondent.' Mugabe's party in Zimbabwe spasms into mass repression and political violence to prevent Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change from winning power. The African Union dithers, as does the UN (as it gives Zimbabwe leadership positions). Many Chinese rationalize their government's weapon shipment. According to the government-published Herald, everything's just fine. What are the options?
posted by shivohum (29 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
As with all of these situations, what matters is the military. If the military can be persuaded to ignore Mugabe's orders (mugabe=Mugabe + his inner circle), then you can pack him up and ship him off somewhere. If not, if the military is aligned with Mugabe, then it becomes a much worse problem.

The problem is not only bad for zimbabweans, who will have a very short civil war followed by a very long oppression, but it sets the stage for the first US - China military conflict by proxy. China is going to ship the govt weapons, and we are presumably going to ship rebels weapons as well, though it won't show up in the papers like that.

This may be one of those situations where it makes more sense to persuade (i.e. bribe) a few generals to arrest Mugabe, and then explaining to Mugabe in prison that his choice is to step down and cede power magnanimously, or get shot in a sewer.
posted by Pastabagel at 7:14 AM on May 8, 2008 [3 favorites]


After the uprising of the 17th June
The Secretary of the Writers Union
Had leaflets distributed in the Stalinallee
Stating that the people
Had forfeited the confidence of the government
And could win it back only
By redoubled efforts. Would it not be easier
In that case for the government
To dissolve the people
And elect another?

--Bertolt Brecht, "The Solution"
posted by stammer at 7:16 AM on May 8, 2008 [8 favorites]


Zimbabweans had high hopes that the election would usher in a period of prosperity and greater freedoms.

Instead, an economic crisis marked by severe shortages of food and fuel and the world's highest inflation rate of 165,000 percent is deepening.

Critics blame the collapse on Mugabe's policies, including the seizure of white-owned farms to give to landless blacks. Mugabe, 84, says sanctions imposed by his Western critics have ruined the country.


I think its time we stopped imposing sanctions on bad regimes. From now on, even the worst governments are allowed to buy whatever they want (save nukes and other weapons) from any country they want. El Supremo Generalissimo Presidente wants a new fleet of Porches? Fine. Here. Have them.

At least then people won't be able to blame Western countries when the People's Republic of North Mubukustan has more Italian cars and Presidential Palaces than bushels of wheat.
posted by Avenger at 7:49 AM on May 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


At least then people won't be able to blame Western countries when the People's Republic of North Mubukustan has more Italian cars and Presidential Palaces than bushels of wheat.

That seems like a really stupid idea. I mean, why deny someone a rhetorical point by giving them material aide? Seems like a pretty poor decisions on a cost/benefit analysis.
posted by delmoi at 7:54 AM on May 8, 2008


The BBC, despite being banned from Zimbabwe, has smuggled in several reporters and has a remarkably in-depth page about it.
posted by Mwongozi at 7:58 AM on May 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


Mugabe's criticisms of sanctions are incoherent. The U.S. sanctions are basically personal financial and travel restrictions against a small number of specific government higher ups and the businesses they directly control. I'm not sure about the details of the EU sanctions. They have nothing to do with Zimbabwe's economic problems, and are simply a convenient bogeyman that Mugabe uses to mislead his own people (and maybe a few Americans).
posted by gsteff at 8:02 AM on May 8, 2008 [3 favorites]


That seems like a really stupid idea. I mean, why deny someone a rhetorical point by giving them material aide?

It is more than a rhetorical point. The sanctions end up hurting the population, not the leaders.

I'm not sure that bribing the military will help. Mugabe is the source of their wealth and power, even in a country who's overall wealth is declining (I wouldn't assume that there is any deep thinking going on here among the leadership or military!)

Any way you look at it, this will not end well.
posted by eye of newt at 8:47 AM on May 8, 2008


From what I recall, one of the inside scenarios is that the military is actually pushing Mugabe and his compatriots to stay in power because if Mugabe falls, the opposition gets in power, there is a real threat of retaliation. ZANU-PF has not done the nicest things in the past 5 to 10 years and there is a worry that if the people they've been oppressing get into power, things may not go well for the former oppressors.

So how do you transition to an opposition government that has been arrested, beaten, had land stolen, crops burned, etc. and still set up a situation where reprisal isn't on the top of the list of things to do in office? If you provide amnesty, how do you sell it to a populace with a grudge to bear and not immediately look like you've sold them out? If you don't provide amnesty offers, how do you convince frightened people in power to go peacefully?

Tough questions. South Africa has some experience in these matters, but Mbeki is looking staggeringly useless at the moment. I hope they are able to figure something out though, I really don't want to see the break out of civil war in Zimbabwe.
posted by afflatus at 9:04 AM on May 8, 2008


Depends on the nature of the sanctions, I think.
posted by AdamCSnider at 9:24 AM on May 8, 2008


Whoops, overlooked gsteff's comment. Sorry.
posted by AdamCSnider at 9:24 AM on May 8, 2008




Any way you look at it, this will not end well.


No becuase it won't end at all. Not in our lifetimes, anyway.
posted by tkchrist at 9:29 AM on May 8, 2008


afflatus: I really don't want to see the break out of civil war in Zimbabwe

Better close your eyes pretty damn quick then.
posted by rusty at 9:46 AM on May 8, 2008


So, break it down. How are sanctions different from each other?

How is it possible to design a sanction so as not to hurt a country's economy?


"An unsigned editorial in Saturday’s issue of The Herald singled out teachers as part of an elaborate British- and American-financed plot to rig the election and get rid of Mr. Mugabe."

Furthermore, is there nothing to be said of this? NGOs exercising influence in beleaguered countries is a red flag to me. This is the most nefarious instruments of outside interests (besides lobbies (in highly structured govs) ) and carried out viciously efficiently I might add.

Curiously, we never hear anything about what the average Zimbabwe lay person thinks about all this. I suspect even if we did, It would be a false representation.

NYT mentioned the dirty deeds of these teachers (as reported by The Herald). But it was all presented in such a weasel manner and unabashedly colored.

This whole debate is one sided and the poison vein stretches throughout all blogs.
sheesh, with journalism like that, no wonder NYT, BBC and all other foreign media are banned from Zimbabwe.
posted by Student of Man at 9:54 AM on May 8, 2008


How is it possible to design a sanction so as not to hurt a country's economy?

How about personal travel and financial restrictions against a small number of specific government higher-ups and businesses they directly control?

This whole debate is one sided and the poison vein stretches throughout all blogs.
sheesh, with journalism like that, no wonder NYT, BBC and all other foreign media are banned from Zimbabwe.


Hold on; are you trying to defend Mugabe? That's just nuts.
posted by mr_roboto at 10:07 AM on May 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


Curiously, we never hear anything about what the average Zimbabwe lay person thinks about all this.

i've heard plenty of average zimbabweans interviewed on the radio by the bbc and others, in spite of the ban

mugabe has screwed his country up - the inflation rate alone is proof of that
posted by pyramid termite at 10:08 AM on May 8, 2008


Student of Man: The BBC has done quite a bit of "man on thestreet" reaction from Zimbabwe since the election. In general they see to feel that Mugabe had a lot of promise early on, but it's time for him to go.

Of course, you'd presumably say they were just cherry picking their comments. Or perhaps that the pro-Mugabe popualtion is too busy on their farm invasions land reform campaigns to chat with Auntie Beeb.

Really though. "Mugabe defender" is not gonna be a real good bullet point on your CV in a couple months.
posted by rusty at 10:11 AM on May 8, 2008


I'm not nearly as drunk as the above comment makes me look, btw. This keyboard is not working right.
posted by rusty at 10:12 AM on May 8, 2008


Curiously, we never hear anything about what the average Zimbabwe lay person thinks about all this.

Interview with a Zimbabwean journalist forced to flee the country following police intimidation.
posted by mr_roboto at 10:16 AM on May 8, 2008


This keyboard is not working right.

it's the monocle polish isn't it?
posted by pyramid termite at 10:18 AM on May 8, 2008


It is.
posted by rusty at 10:27 AM on May 8, 2008


The sanctions end up hurting the population, not the leaders.

Nonsense. Look how effective they've been in Cuba: Fidel is out.

Mission accomplished.
posted by rokusan at 10:50 AM on May 8, 2008


Student of Man, this isn't the first time that you've lashed out at the Western media over what you see as their interpretation of the situation in Zimbabwe. If you find the debate one-sided, do you care elucidate the other side(s)? I have yet to come across a Mugabe apologist, and I'd love to hear what they sound like.
posted by youarenothere at 12:03 PM on May 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


What a tragedy.
posted by jokeefe at 12:57 PM on May 8, 2008


The mere fact that Zanu PF lost parliamentary elections that were so heavily gerrymandered in their favour, with political violence and intimidation campaigns against opposition going on for months, with anywhere between 3 - 5 million 'economically active' (i.e. people who probably can vote) refugees in economic exile in Botswana and South Africa excluded from voting means that had elections taken place in an environment resembling something that was actually free and fair to the MDC then Zanu PF and Mugabe would have been lucky to get 25% of the vote.
posted by PenDevil at 1:19 PM on May 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


These stories about "youth militias" remind me an awful lot of the Red Guards from the Chinese Cultural Revolution, who were likewise able through minimal organization to intimidated a much larger disorganized population through violence. The difference is that the Red Guards actually had an ideology. A bad one, but still. What do these criminals stand for, other than preserving their own power?

Mugabe is never going to leave on his own. It seems that the Zimbabwean revolution is only 1/2 done. These "militias" are usually only armed with sticks and chains. Perhaps it's time to stone them to death and put their heads on pikes.
posted by 1adam12 at 1:40 PM on May 8, 2008


I don't like Mugabe and would like to see him gone from power, but I'm not sure that the Opposition Party will end up being much better. Things may be better for Zimbabweans, at least for a little while. But ultimately I suspect that nothing will change. The new President, should Mugabe actually end up going, may make things better for a while but once he realises he has power, a military and money, things will probably start to return to the way they are now. The simple fact of the matter is that politics in that part of the world is fucked far more than in most other parts of the world, and corruption runs deep. See this cartoon for a visual aid, if you don't already get my point.

Put more simply, any country where the politicians wear expensive suits and eat three square meals a day while the vast majority of their people live in generational entrenched poverty is a system where wholesale social and political change is an unlikely prospect, no matter who is in power. The really sad thing is that I'm not sure how things will ever get any better over there.
posted by Effigy2000 at 3:47 PM on May 8, 2008


June 2nd. 12:05 GMT. Livingston, Zambia.

Alighted in Livingston after an uneventful drive from Lusaka. Took a room out at the hotel and had the valet park my car there. Surface civilian travel only from this point on. Left all IDs - drivers license and the 3 passports, credit cards, and my tags in the hotel room. Inventory for the next 5 days:

Toss-away passport
$600 USD, 2000 ZAR
2 changes of clothes
1 CheyTac Intervention M100, broken down, in case
1 single-man raft, in case
1 Glock G17 9MM

I left the picture in the hotel room, I've studied it enough that I see it when I close my eyes now. Taking a taxi to the border crossing.

June 3rd. 7:30 GMT. Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.

Caught a ride last night from Vic Falls on an empty coal truck returning from Zambia. Crossed the border uneventfully, the gate guard eyed my bags but looked away quickly after I palmed him some cash. Walked across the bridge, past the bungee jumpers, thumbed the trucks that past me every 5 minutes or so, and finally caught one after I had walked most of the way into town.

Its quiet here, even for this hour in the morning. Not as many people out as there was last time I came through here. Bus to Harare leaves shortly.

June 4th. 3:40 GMT. Harare, Zimbabwe.

Setting up shop at the worksite, on the northwest corner of the hotel I took a suite in. About 200 meters across the block and just beyond the next street is the park where the target will be speaking at a ZANU-PF rally in about 4 hours. Left 5 apples on the ground about 50 meters past the target and have been taking test shots for every half an hour for the last 2 hours - the weather is good and wind shear will likely remain negligible, but there's always that x-factor when firing from an elevated position.

June 4th. 21:10 GMT. Chicaulacaula, Mozambique.

Have been moving since 9:06 this morning when I took the shot. Confirmed the hit, dropped the M100 barrel down an air duct and left the rest of the pieces in various trash cans on my way to the back alley, where I hopped a motorbike that I hotwired last night. Beat the roadblocks out of the city, and apparently stayed ahead of the spread of the news - I was stopped at 3 checkpoints on the way to Sango, but made it without event through each one, thanks to spare cash. I ditched the bike and the raft case (no need for it as exit route alpha was clear) outside of town and then walked around it, crossing the border about 2 kilometers outside of town. Tomorrow I'll be hitching a ride to Inhambane and then flights to Maputo and on to Joburg.

June 5th. 16:45 GMT. Maputo, Mozambique.

In the airport. No televisions here but I received a text from Support 1 in Lusaka - kill confirmed, MA. S1 is on his way to clean the hotel suite in Livingston and then returns to Joburg for debrief there in the morning. I'm chewing on the question that always raises its ugly head in the early hours following a mission - will God forgive that man? This time, I doubt it.
posted by allkindsoftime at 4:19 PM on May 8, 2008 [5 favorites]


Simbabwe, a Mac game like Monopoly but based in Mugabe's "Simbabwe," is a rather amusing take on the whole tragic mess.
posted by ikkyu2 at 5:22 PM on May 8, 2008


Anti-immigrant violence in South Africa, hitting many from Zimbabwe.
posted by Artw at 9:58 AM on May 19, 2008


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