January 10, 2002
10:25 AM   Subscribe

On the same day that a date was set for elections in Zimbabwe, the Commander of Zimbabwe's Defence forces warned that the military will not support a president who "reverses the gains of the revolution".

All this comes as draconian new powers are poised to be pushed through parliament by the Zanu PF party, despite being rejected earlier this week.
The Guardian's "The Weblog" site has many good sources for background information on Zimbabwe and its political troubles.
posted by davehat (9 comments total)
i heard mad bob's foreign (?) minister on newsnight recently - according to him, the opposition party MDC (Movement for Democratic Change) are responsible for all the unrest. Jeremy Vine (presenter) let him get away with that statement, i hope, because anyone who knows anything about the situation in Zim would have to discount it as the worthless rhetoric of an outgoing sycophant.

I can only hope that the MDC will get international support for nation building once they get in. Bob has effectively destroyed that country, but not the people.
posted by asok at 10:48 AM on January 10, 2002

Is it just me, or has Mugabe been getting steadily worse over the last few years? I mean, he's never been a saint, but it really seems like he went off the deep end a while back...
posted by aramaic at 11:16 AM on January 10, 2002

I love that story used the word "nicodemously" to refer to the revival of legislation which had been killed.
posted by MattD at 11:20 AM on January 10, 2002

Ye gods, Zimbabwe is about to be a huge disaster that the world will have to deal with. Most of the farms have been destroyed. The ones that might still be farmable have been parcelled out in large part to the military, with small plots being handed out to "peasants". None of those farms this year will be able to manage feeding even a small percentage of the population there.

It's going to be mass starvation and the US and our allies may not have enough surplus crops this year to feed both afghanistan and zimbabwe and all the other nations that have run out of food. It's going to be a long, hard year for a lot of people.
posted by dejah420 at 11:37 AM on January 10, 2002

It's better than that. Zimbabwe used to be the agricultural powerhouse of the region. Not just Zimbabweans rely on it for food.
posted by vbfg at 1:15 PM on January 10, 2002

Thanks to the CIA, a comprehensive statistical representation of the state of Zimbabwe last year can be found on their site.

Even a cursory glance at the figures seem to show a country on the brink of implosion; AIDS prevalence in adults is around the 25% mark, the infant mortality rate is 63 in every 1000 live births and an average life expectancy is 37 years of age.

Encouragingly, the US government seems to have addressed these facts. George Bush recently passed an act that will discourage further loans or debt relief to Zimbabwe until his concerns about the country's leadership are satisfied.

This coming Monday 14th January, there will be an extra-ordinary summit of SADC (South African Development Community) members to discuss, among other things, the situation in the Congo (Robert Mugabe is a key ally of Joseph Kabila who was due to visit Zimbabwe yesterday) as well as the forthcoming elections in Zimbabwe. Perhaps Robert Mugabe's peers will take him to task on his governments outright hostile behaviour towards any Zimbabwean who does not wear Zanu PF colours on their sleeves.

Alas, it will be too late to halt the new amendments mentioned in my initial post. They were passed yesterday:
The general laws amendment bill bans independent election monitors and denies voting rights to millions of citizens abroad. The public order and security bill criminalises criticism of Mr Mugabe and gives the government sweeping new security powers.
This is deeply disturbing news.
posted by davehat at 6:59 PM on January 10, 2002

There have been dictators whose people have actually prospered, but Mugabee is of that particular strain that is more than willing to destroy everything to stay in power. This situation has all the earmarks of civil war/revolution and eventual incursion by South Africa. When the people cannot even speak out, much less do something, as their country is being hijacked and ruined before their very eyes, something has to happen. Beyond sanctions, which only hurt the victims, does the 'world' have a responsibility here and if yes, how to proceed?
posted by Mack Twain at 10:17 AM on January 11, 2002

Wouldn't a president have to sell Zimbabwe back to the U.K. as a colony to "reverse the gains of the revolution?" I don't think London would be particularly interested in buying.

posted by Mars Saxman at 10:24 AM on January 11, 2002

Yesterday, SADC met in Blantyre, Malawi. Although the leaders present expressed concern that the election process in Zimbabwe should be fair, they once again stopped short of condeming the Mugabe regime and imposing sanctions against it.

Whereas I believe that to some extent Thabo Mbeki is right - Zimbabweans must choose for themselves to be rid of Mugabe - it beggars belief that the South African government might think that Mugabe's regime encourages the average Zimbabwean to vote him out of office. His point about sanctions being worse for the average Zimbabwean seems to ignore the fact that the sanctions being recommended would be targetted against the Mugabe regime, not the average Zimbabwean citizen (although, I admit, this seems a rather fanciful notion).

As the article points out, the feeling in the South African government would appear to be that this is not their problem, but one with which responsibility rests with Britain. This may be so, but the British government is powerless in the face of a regime that dismisses as "terrorists" or "anti-Zimbabwean" anyone who does not support Mugabe, let alone speaks out in favour of an alternative government. It would be far more difficult for him to behave in this way if the governments applying pressure on him were his peers, not that of a country that once ruled over Zimbabwe by force.

There is less point now in pointing fingers at those who allowed the situation to develop, more action needs to be taken to ensure that the up coming election is free, fair and that the results are allowed to stand once the results are known.
posted by davehat at 5:30 AM on January 15, 2002

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