Day By Day

Friday, March 25, 2005

Mugabe Update

In Georgia, Ukraine, Krgyzstan, Lebanon, and elsewhere democratic reformers have used the occasion of national elections to mount powerful challenges to corrupt and oppressive regimes. Zimbabwe will be holding Parliamentary elections at the end of this month. There is no more corrupt and oppressive regime in the world than that of Robert Mugabe. Will the upcoming elections provide yet another opportunity for reform?

Mad Bobby Mugabe is running an incredibly perverse campaign, described in the Times.

FORGET about education. Forget about job creation, even though unemployment is running at 80 per cent. The 2005 parliamentary election in Zimbabwe is all about the threat posed by a middle-aged man living thousands of miles away.

President Mugabe, who since 2000 has made no secret of his contempt for Britain, has dubbed next week’s vote the “anti-Blair election”. Demonisation of the Prime Minister has become the central platform of the ruling Zanu (PF) party’s campaign.

Yesterday on page 3 of the government-run Herald newspaper, the country’s biggest, a full-page advertisement declared: “Bury Blair, Vote Zanu PF.” In bullet points, the British Prime Minister was blamed for everything from “racist factory closures” to “politically motivated price increases” and sanctions.

Nearly every Zanu (PF) campaign speech contains angry references to Mr Blair, whom Mr Mugabe accuses of financing the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
Mugabe is pulling out all the stops:

...Zanu (PF)’s campaign is designed to woo, or rather scare, rural voters by suggesting that if the opposition wins, Zimbabwe will became a de facto colony of Britain once more, and that land will be returned to white farmers.
All electronic media are government-controlled, despite a ruling by the Supreme Court five years ago that such a monopoly was unconstitutional.

In rural areas, where more than 60 per cent of people rely on radio for their information, they are fed a daily diet of Zanu (PF) propaganda....

Dozens of local journalists have been harassed, and a few weeks ago three journalists working for foreign media — including the Times correspondent, Jan Raath, who had lived here for 30 years — were forced to leave the country after being accused of spying....
Read the whole thing here.

What is significant here is not that Mugabe is a racist thug -- he's always been that -- or that he rigs elections -- nothing new there -- but that he feels the need to exert himself so much in this election cycle. Could he be hearing footsteps?

If protests arise in Zimbabwe there is little doubt how Mugabe will react and if violence breaks out how will the West react? Economic sanctions are out of the question. Zimbabwe is already starving.

Stay tuned.

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