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A people too scared to vote.
June 23, 2008 2:43 AM   Subscribe

Zimbabwe: Tsvangirai Withdraws MDC From 'Sham' Poll. Apparently he agrees with Mugabe's claim that only God can remove him from office. Prev Zim.
posted by allkindsoftime (65 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
Video linked under the picture in this article. There's some pretty brutal violence being streamed on the news here in South Africa.
posted by allkindsoftime at 2:46 AM on June 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


So George Carlin dies what was probably a painful death and genocidal maniac Robert Mugabe is alive, well, and still in power with no opposition?

That's nice. Fucking excellent.
posted by chuckdarwin at 2:53 AM on June 23, 2008 [3 favorites]


I'll just add that as a South African, despite the fact that our next probable next president (Jacob Zuma) has yet to stand trial on corruption charges, I can not wait for the Thabo Mbeki reign to be over. In 10 years he has fucked it up completely.
posted by PenDevil at 2:55 AM on June 23, 2008


I'd wager that Zuma can find a way to do worse.
posted by allkindsoftime at 2:58 AM on June 23, 2008


Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has managed to "largely unite the world against him", UK Foreign Office minister Lord Malloch-Brown has said.
posted by chuckdarwin at 3:27 AM on June 23, 2008


Yep. This is pretty much as fucked as it gets. But also completely expected. Mugabe will only go when The Reaper pays him a visit, and even then he'll subject The Reaper and his family, friends and supporters to so much violence and intimidation that he'll probably hang on for a few days more than he had.
posted by Effigy2000 at 3:29 AM on June 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


The question of how many of your men to sacrifice for a cause is much harder to answer than the question of what one is personally willing to sacrifice.

I hope i am wrong, but this "world united" is bullshit. Nobody will do anything. Even the americans are probably not interested in a new war, and not in this war. With the delay(?) of the Lisbon Treaty, the EU will not take a strong position either, and in the end, Robert Mugabe for all his failings knows the west better then the west knows itself.
posted by CautionToTheWind at 4:06 AM on June 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


Had Tsvangirai originally chosen to boycott the June 27 run-off, he would have set the stage for Robert Gabriel Mugabe, the president, to win re-election by default.

Tsvangirai's supporters would also have viewed him as a coward and a let-down, Zimbabwean political analysts say.


The fact that Tsvangirai withdrew, rather than stage a boycott is curious... isn't this conferring legitimacy to the run-off?

I wonder how much Tsvangirai sold out for?
posted by three blind mice at 4:08 AM on June 23, 2008


I wonder how much Tsvangirai sold out for?

Not having his family killed, I suppose.
posted by oaf at 4:11 AM on June 23, 2008 [3 favorites]


three blind mice, you do know they were killing his supporters and their families wholesale?
posted by CautionToTheWind at 4:14 AM on June 23, 2008


...and removing their limbs before killing them, I will add.

In announcing his withdrawl, he made it very clear to his supported in Zimbabwe and to the wold community why he was doing this.
posted by Jimbob at 4:20 AM on June 23, 2008


Victory!
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:23 AM on June 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


I wonder how much Tsvangirai sold out for?

No more blood on his hands for the 80 or so deaths of his supporters during this second campaign (to this point) and who knows how many more to come in the process of fruitlessly (as is now apparent) attempting to wrest power from Mugabe? Would that be enough payoff for you?

What a pathetic and cowardly insult.
posted by Wolof at 4:32 AM on June 23, 2008 [5 favorites]


What a pathetic and cowardly insult.

Hmm, how does one respond to this assault of logic and reason?

Not having his family killed, I suppose.

He and his family have been living under the threat of violence since he began his campaign. This is nothing new.

do know they were killing his supporters and their families wholesale?

Yes, and it's been going on for months. Plently of people have already been killed as a result of his campaign and this did not deter him.

Why at this point withdraw and not at least boycott?

Now all of these people have died for no absolutely reason at all. That's a sell out in my system of accounting.
posted by three blind mice at 4:47 AM on June 23, 2008


He and his family have been living under the threat of violence since he began his campaign. This is nothing new.

Are you sure that the specific threats against his family aren't new?

I didn't think so.
posted by oaf at 4:53 AM on June 23, 2008


Fuck off.

The MDC have been fighting for this election to be held properly and fairly for a long, long time. Tsvangirai won the election held a few months ago. His party won a majority in parliament. They have been holding on hope that maybe, eventually, Mugabe would fall, or give up. There were, after all, rumours post the first presidential poll, that Mugabe was planning to transfer power.

None of this has eventuated. Violence has been increasing in recent weeks, the Mugabe regime has, in only the last few days, made it clear that foreign election observers will not be welcome, and he has declared that he is willing to "go to war" to hold onto power.

It has become clear to the MDC that it isn't going to happen this time. That's only being fair to the people and to the country. May we liken it to Ralph Nader, perhaps, except imagine if people were waiting outside the voting booths ready to kill you and your family if you voted Green.

Time to quit and, unfortunately, wait until the country collapses completely, so it can be rebuilt.
posted by Jimbob at 4:56 AM on June 23, 2008


Rock on, three blind mice.
posted by CautionToTheWind at 5:10 AM on June 23, 2008


Tragic. Mugabe seems to me to suffer from two problems. One, psychologically he never came out of the cave; after years in charge he still thinks like a guerilla, not like a president. Two, advancing senility has made him indecisive and ineffectual.

The result is, instead of being a relatively peaceful and prosperous dictatorship, Zimbabwe has fallen into chaos. Things that could have been achieved by legislation, however improperly, are consistently achieved only by belated and disorganised gangsterism. Why did he bother with an election? If he was going to fix the election, why didn't he do it properly the first time? Why did he allow the Parliamentary elections to return an opposition majority - still an unresolved issue so far as I know? Even as a dictator, he's a shambling mess.

Otherwise, I agree with PenDevil: I'd never have believed I could have warmed to Jacob Zuma so quickly.
posted by Phanx at 5:13 AM on June 23, 2008


Hey, lay off three blind mice. He once led a revolution against an evil dictator in which hundreds of his followers were brutally murdered and maimed and did you ever once hear a peep of uncertainty in his unwavering courage? DID YOU? NO! And then what happened? That's right, the hero three blind mice BEAT the evil dictator with his iron will and selfless determination and his thirst for democracy and his totally pure, never compromised morality and the people in his country lived in freedom forever afterwards. The man is a god and a legend and if there's anyone who knows exactly what Tsvangirai is going through, it's him.
posted by billysumday at 5:15 AM on June 23, 2008 [10 favorites]


I bet you could assassinate him for less than ten million dollars. Five hundred million max. Normally I wouldn't approve of such a tactic, but if you lose an election and decide not to transfer power peacefully, or if you intimidate the opposition into forgoing runoff elections, you should be assassinated.

Shit, I can think of six ways to do it off the top of my head.

1. Take a terminally ill guy with a family and crippling debt, give him a few lessons in diplomacy, and a big fuck-off knife. Make him the new ambassador to Zimbabwe and tell him that his wife and kids get the money as soon as Mugabe is in the ground.

2. Neutralize Zimbabwe's air force. Even with all the shiny new shit they bought from China (thanks, guys) the USAF and Navy could find a couple squadrons to take care of that before brunch. Then drop leaflets on Zimbabwe that say "U.S. citizenship and ten million USD for killing Mugabe." Or make it five hundred million. It's still less than a single stealth bomber.

I am saving three through six for the CIA.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 5:20 AM on June 23, 2008


OK, with 80 percent unemployment and 2 million percent inflation, obviously it can't go on forever, but how is it going to end? African leaders are turning against him and Odinga has even talked about sending in international peacekeepers to enforce a fair election. Killing, however, is another deal. If someone kills Mugabe, it doesn't exactly set a good example for people thinking about running Zimbabwe. There must be dozens of little Mugabes waiting for the right kind of turmoil.
posted by pracowity at 5:47 AM on June 23, 2008


Mugabe regime has, in only the last few days, made it clear that foreign election observers will not be welcome, and he has declared that he is willing to "go to war" to hold onto power.

I think it's time to make sure Mugabe's no longer in a position to oppress his own people. By whatever means necessary.
posted by oaf at 5:49 AM on June 23, 2008


Optimus: That seems a little, erm, extravagant. Why not just cruse missile his house?

It seems like, unlike the Myanmar Junta, Zimbabwe isn't heavily backed by China. Mugabe's only real support comes from South Africa (the Chinese are willing to sell them weapons, but how far are they really going to stick out their necks?)

Also, unlike Iraq, we already understand the local political situation, and know who would take over in the event of millitary overthrow.

Obviously there could be pretty serious downsides, though. For one thing, Mugabe's supporters (obviously, they do exist) could start a gorilla war which could cause a lot more damage to the country -- or at least a lot more death -- then the current voter intimidation. It's easy to call for violence when you don't have to live with the consequences.

Going forward, it might be a good idea for new democracies to sign away some of their Sovereignty in exchange for external enforcement of election policies. Countries could sign up with larger more established democracies to have their elections more carefully monitored and any attempt to steal them or hold on to power could result in a military intervention.

The threat of external intervention and careful monitoring up front might be enough to prevent this kind of thing from even getting started.
posted by delmoi at 5:54 AM on June 23, 2008


Mugabe and the situation in Zimbabwe just makes my blood boil. The "International Community" needs to grow some balls.
posted by flippant at 6:05 AM on June 23, 2008


That's a sell out in my system of accounting.

there's nothing more admirable than a man who will fight until the very last drop of YOUR blood is spilled

how's life in that armchair, three blind mice?
posted by pyramid termite at 6:09 AM on June 23, 2008


Going forward, it might be a good idea for new democracies to sign away some of their Sovereignty in exchange for external enforcement of election policies...

A good idea? Have you heard of a place called 'Iraq', delmoi?
posted by Phanx at 6:09 AM on June 23, 2008


Hopefully your coup attempt will be better-planned and -executed than this one.

The plot to overthrow the government of Equatorial Guinea in 2004 was so improbable that it sounded like something out of a tale from the tropics, too outlandish even for Graham Greene.

It was, as outlined in a series of court cases and breathless news articles, a steamy stew of British upper-crusters concocting a scheme on behalf of a reclusive financier to use private mercenaries to overthrow the dictator of a tiny, mineral-rich African nation for fun and profit — or, in the conspirators’ argot, “a large splodge of wonga.”

But as the trial of one of the accused men, Simon Mann, an old Etonian and veteran of Britain’s elite Special Air Service, got under way on Tuesday in Equatorial Guinea in West Africa, fact has proved as strange as fiction, if not stranger.


It didn't work, the mercenaries are on trial in Equatorial Guinea, and a bunch of rich Britons are under investigation or already arrested; Margaret Thatcher's son has already plead guilty in South Africa for his role in the cock-up.

So yeah, no one will miss Mugabe, but a half-assed coup attempt may leave him in a tremendously stronger position than he is in now.
posted by Forktine at 6:17 AM on June 23, 2008


We already understand the local political situation.

We do? Will the soldiers who go in to keep the peace? Will the aid workers? Some of them might, but they'll soon rotate out - after all, they're all only in it for the development tourism.

The "International Community" needs to grow some balls.

I think the international community needs to grow some humility as to the limits of its capacity to get things done on the ground. We need to start being a little more careful invading other countries, and blundering around in the vain belief that we can make it all better.
posted by YouRebelScum at 6:22 AM on June 23, 2008


I bet you could assassinate him for less than ten million dollars. Five hundred million max. Normally I wouldn't approve of such a tactic, but if you lose an election and decide not to transfer power peacefully, or if you intimidate the opposition into forgoing runoff elections, you should be assassinated.

Doubt it would take ten THOUSAND.
posted by arimathea at 6:30 AM on June 23, 2008


I bet you could assassinate him for less than ten million dollars.

I bet so too. Probably for less than 5mil.
posted by allkindsoftime at 6:33 AM on June 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


Zim economy set for Armegeddon
posted by PenDevil at 6:34 AM on June 23, 2008


Mugabe's supporters could start a gorilla war

...
posted by anthill at 6:39 AM on June 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


Here's what I don't get about this situation: why did Mugabe even bother to have elections at all? He's not remotely interested in pretending that they're legitimate. Is there something internationally or domestically that he gets out of holding sham elections that even he completely acknowledges as a sham (while generating more violence than he would have without the elections)?
posted by yarrow at 6:51 AM on June 23, 2008


yarrow: It honestly didn't occur to him that he would lose. He thought that he would have a runoff election between himself and one of his cronies, which he would win. He didn't realize the new rules about posting election results at each polling station would mean that there could be an independent count. Tsvangirai actually got enough of the vote that a runnoff election would have been unnecessary, but the results probably put them into panic mode.

It's also possible that domestically, he thinks he can control the news enough that if people go out to the polls and vote, they'll think an election happened.
posted by delmoi at 6:56 AM on June 23, 2008


Normally I wouldn't approve of such a tactic, but if you lose an election and decide not to transfer power peacefully, or if you intimidate the opposition into forgoing runoff elections, you should be assassinated.

Nothing like the assassination of a leader to make a country with political divisions peaceably lay down their arms and stop the bloodshed. Just ask the Rwandans.
posted by YouRebelScum at 7:06 AM on June 23, 2008


What I find interesting is there was a brief moment after the first election, a week or two, where it looked like Mugabe might actually go peacefully.
posted by Nelson at 7:16 AM on June 23, 2008


Tsvangirai probably did the right thing. There's no way the 'official' vote counts would hand him a win, no matter how many of his supporters risked their lives to go vote. Short of hoping for massive international intervention, which could easily backfire, or massive international pressure, which might or might not work, there's little for anyone there to do but buckle down and hope for the best. It's going to be a rough ride.
posted by echo target at 7:21 AM on June 23, 2008


That's a sell out in my system of accounting.

Read up on opportunity cost.
posted by chillmost at 7:23 AM on June 23, 2008


Thanks for the article PenDevil... interesting read, especially this:

Significantly, the section worst hit by the difficulties in getting access to money is the civil service, including about 100 000 members of the army, the police, the secret police and prison services, all of whom have been critical in maintaining Mugabe's violent rule.

Perhaps if the muscle-men stop getting paid, they will turn on Mugabe. And trade sanctions of luxury items perhaps would turn all the elite-class cronies against him too.

We need to turn Mugabe's greatest strength into his greatest weakness.
posted by bitteroldman at 7:24 AM on June 23, 2008


The EU, the UN, and US and the UK cannot get involved in this. Any attempt to remove Bobby by the west will simply add fuel to the Zanu-PF fire.

The only people who can legitimately sort this out is the SADC and specifically South Africa. Unfortunately Mbeki, as noted above, is a fucking joke.
posted by fatfrank at 7:24 AM on June 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


Nelson

See this article in The Times. The army have a vested interested in keeping the old bastard in power.
posted by fatfrank at 7:28 AM on June 23, 2008


The problem isn't Mugabe; The problem is the everyone else in the power structure that stand to lose if Zanu-PF leaves power. The governmental officials, military, favored businessmen, etc. are determined to fight and the reason that Mugabe is still in power (according to the World Service, he was going to step down until they convinced him to stay in power.)
posted by theclaw at 7:34 AM on June 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


Tsvangirai flees to Dutch Embassy, seeking refuge, after raid on party headquarters.
posted by ericb at 7:36 AM on June 23, 2008


Maybe he and Mugabe could meet up again in The Hague.
posted by oaf at 8:17 AM on June 23, 2008


Once, just once, when some megalomaniacal terrorist dictator invokes God as the only power that can remove him from office, I'd love to see a blinding patch of light open right above his head and hear a richly sepulchral voice intone, like the Bug said to Edgar in Men In Black, "Your proposal is acceptable", then suck 'im right into the light patch and leave a little wispy bit of smoke and a toy army hat spinning gradually to a settled position on the ground.

Just once. That's all it'd take.
posted by Mike D at 8:38 AM on June 23, 2008 [4 favorites]


This is Zimbabwe.
posted by adamvasco at 9:16 AM on June 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


From adamvasco's link:
The decision that Morgan Tsvangirai has made today is probably the very opposite of the one that Robert Mugabe would make if he was wearing Tsvangirai’s shoes. Robert Mugabe is a sadist: he unflinchingly wreaks the worst kind of brutality on his people. In contrast, today has shown us that Morgan Tsvangirai is clearly a man who carries the burden of moral responsibility more heavily, and he has decided that he is not the kind of leader who can ask his people to die in his battle to win a leadership contest.

The sentence which stands out for me in the MDC press statement is this: “We in the MDC cannot ask them to cast their vote on June 27 when that vote will cost them their life”.
So terribly heartbreaking.
posted by rtha at 9:31 AM on June 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


Please don't call Zimbabwe Zim.
posted by Pronoiac at 9:33 AM on June 23, 2008


Time to quit and, unfortunately, wait until the country collapses completely, so it can be rebuilt.

As bad as Zimbabwe is, I'm sure it could get a lot worse. A complete collapse would never be a clean slate to rebuild from - it would involve something like South Africa pulling the plug on Zimbabwe's fuel supply and setting a loose a starving, rioting Zimbabwean diaspora across the entire southern continent.
posted by hoverboards don't work on water at 10:50 AM on June 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


My preferred solution would be to generously pay off as many of the members of Mugabe's inner circle as possible accept voluntary exile immediately- I'd think that several African countries would be willing to accept them if it might help resolve the current conflict- and then offer Mugabe a similar deal if he agrees to hold a real election with UN observers in a year, and not stand for reelection himself at that point. Any deal would have to, publically, be brokered by someone other than the U.S. or Britain, of course. It allows him to save face by retiring voluntarily, at a time kinda of his own choosing, and removes at least some of the main people two could derail it. And a clear path forward from the current mess might allow Western governments to start providing some of the massive aid packages that they're currently planning, but refuse to provide until the current regime is out. And, on the other hand, if Mugabe fails to step aside, or the election is compromised, having patiently waited through another year of this mess would probably provide enough justification for international military action.
posted by gsteff at 10:53 AM on June 23, 2008


er, people who could derail it.
posted by gsteff at 11:19 AM on June 23, 2008


As hopeful as I am that President-elect Tsvangirai will one day be able to assume his rightful post, the world had exactly the same kind of hope for Yoweri Museveni, who has in the traditional manner turned into a more mild version of what he replaced. Multi-party democracy in Africa is still a hope, and little more. On the entire continent we have, what, Senegal (sort of), Mali, Benin, and Ghana. Here's hoping Zimbabwe joins the list sooner rather than later.
posted by 1adam12 at 11:21 AM on June 23, 2008


So George Carlin dies what was probably a painful death and genocidal maniac Robert Mugabe is alive, well, and still in power with no opposition?

In fairness, Carlin probably would have found that to be pretty fucking funny.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 11:55 AM on June 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


gsteff: Why would Mugabe's cronies accept payoffs? They're making a fortune off of the black market and they plundered the DRC during Zimbabwe's military campaign there in the 90's (which is one of the "hidden" reasons the country is in such a dire state).
posted by PenDevil at 1:03 PM on June 23, 2008


Why would Mugabe's cronies accept payoffs?

To avoid prosecution. Africa has a long history of retirement deals like this.
posted by gsteff at 1:08 PM on June 23, 2008


Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai said he would reconsider his election withdrawal, but only if political violence stopped. Meanwhile the Zimbabwean police have raided the Opposition's HQ, amid claims from Mugabe that Tsvangirai is playing political games. So not much chance that he'll actually get back in the game, then.
posted by Effigy2000 at 2:02 PM on June 23, 2008


So long ago, a certain Rastaman had so much hope, but... same as it ever was.

"To divide and rule could only tear us apart;
In everyman chest, mm - there beats a heart.
So soon we'll find out who is the real revolutionaries;
And I don't want my people to be tricked by mercenaries."

--Bob Marley, Zimbabwe
posted by symbioid at 6:19 PM on June 23, 2008


In the unlikely event Mugabe ever ends up in the Hague, Mbeki belongs there with him. His unwavering support and use of South African muscle to derail attempts by other southern African nations to bring Mugabe's rule to a peaceful end mean blood is as much on his hands as Mugabe's these days.

Sadly, the main thing Mugabe has proven is that black Africans can be every bit as evil and vile toward other black Africans as white Europeans were. Zimbabwe's people deserve better; Mugabe could once have retired a hero of African liberation.
posted by rodgerd at 2:51 AM on June 24, 2008


It's old and of no help today (except maybe to highlight the prior complacency of governments and the UN) but Peter Tatchell won my eternal respect when he 'arrested' Mugabe back in 1999.
posted by theyexpectresults at 5:04 AM on June 24, 2008


Tsvangirai was chased by soldiers to the Dutch embassy.
posted by oaf at 7:37 AM on June 24, 2008


...and why the hell isn't someone going in there and doing something about this?
posted by oaf at 8:37 PM on June 24, 2008


The chances are that the present regime will implode: divisions and paranoia within Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF.
posted by adamvasco at 3:38 AM on June 25, 2008


...and why the hell isn't someone going in there and doing something about this?

Which someone? If any of the old colonial powers tried to, it would most likely be a debacle. I can't think of a better way of giving Mugabe a get-out-of-jail-free card than the sight of British Paras dropping into Africa to "sort out" an old colony. Even people who hate Mugabe would be loathe to support something that would look a hell of a lot like a return to colonialism.

Other African nations? A better bet, but the African nation best equipped to deploy a substantial, well-trained, well-equipped army is South Africa. And Mbeki is just fine with Mugabe.
posted by rodgerd at 5:58 PM on June 25, 2008


HARARE, Zimbabwe, June 27 -- Zimbabwe's tainted presidential election unfolded Friday against a chilling backdrop of police checkpoints and low voter turnout.

Many who cast ballots in the uncontested race said they were being forced to do so. Their claims were validated by the ominous presence of ruling-party officials stationed near each polling place to track who was voting, and for whom.

Voters were told to write down their name, address and the last three digits of the serial number from their ballots, and submit the information to ruling-party command centers so their ballots could be checked. Although longtime President Robert Mugabe was the only candidate still in the race, the name of challenger Morgan Tsvangirai remained on the ballot.

In Chitungwiza, a bedroom community south of the capital, 25-year-old Spencer Mashonga said authorities had threatened to seize his family's house -- built by a local governing council -- if family members did not cast their ballots for Mugabe.
posted by rtha at 10:57 AM on June 27, 2008


Archbishop Desmond Tutu has urged the international community to intervene in Zimbabwe - by force if necessary.
posted by homunculus at 12:19 AM on June 29, 2008


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