Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Mugabe's bloody tenacity

Robert Mugabe has brought Zimbabwe, its people and its economic infrastructure, to its knees. He has been the direct instigator of violence, misery and poverty. All in the name of clinging to personal power.

He wouldn't have lasted this long, had it not been for the direct support of the South African leadership for more than ten years. Both South Africa's ANC and Mugabe's Zanu had been at the forefront of liberation struggles in their respective countries, and Mugabe's history still holds a lot of cachet for SA's president Thabo Mbeki.

Now Mugabe has agreed to share power in Zimbabwe with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, whose leader Morgan Tsvangirai was only 28 when the Zimbabwe liberation struggle ended in 1980. He even joined Mugabe's Zanu party.

Surely that is old enough to remember subsequent events: how two parties contested power in the early years of independence, but Mugabe hounded Joshua Nkomo and Zapu and later forcibly merged Zapu party into Zanu. Nkomo's and Tsvangirai's experiences at the hands of Mugabe have in fact been remarkably similar, except that Nkomo's situation is now fully played out (he accepted co-option to avoid further bloodshed by Mugabe, and died in 1999).

In signing the deal, ex-trade unionist Tsvangirai is probably doing what he can to avoid prolonging suffering in Zimbabwe. Mugabe's track record in sharing power is appalling, and any respect he garnered for his role in independence should have been thoroughly crushed by his bloody-minded actions of more recent times. Mugabe stands culpable along with anyone who supports him.

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