Mugabe’s centenarian dreams and Zimbabwe’s nightmares

Posted on | juni 9, 2011 | No Comments

Mugabe (UN Photo/Rick Bajornas)

Rumors that Robert Mugabe’s health might be faltering notwithstanding, Mugabe himself claims that he is going to live to be 100. So the myriad conflicts and problems plaguing the country in its recent past are probably not going anywhere soon. Indeed recent days have shown the gamut of Zimbabwean problems ranging from fresh threats against so-called “traitors” (read political enemies) to torture against those accused of crimes to the arrest of a Zimbabwean police detective accused of using Mugabe’s toilet. Meanwhile the constitutional process continues to sputter.

And with an election coming up at some undetermined date likely in the next year we can expect a re-intensification of civic violence in Zimbabwe. We already know that there are roughly 2.6 million too many voters on the country’s voter rolls, including 41,000 people over the age of 100, which is four times the figure in the United Kingdom. And we can expect political violence to increase just as it has (to varying degrees) in previous elections.

Along with these trends toward greater destabilization of Zimbabwean public life there will be two other trends: criticism from the outside and responses to that criticism. The Institute for a Democratic Alternative for Zimbabwe has stated the obvious: That Southern African leaders are in a position to promote free, safe, and fair elections in Zimbabwe. The Southern African Development Community (SADC) finally did begin to take a sterner approach to Mugabe earlier this year but sustained commitment is what will matter going forward.

But there is a flip side to this regional commitment, and that is that it gives Mugabe a target, and when Mugabe has a target we all know that he will shoot at will. And so Mugabe’s party, ZANU-PF, is demanding that SADC back off and is engaging in a publicity blitz to rally Zimbabweans against the sanctions.

Meanwhile, despite the odd reluctance of the South African government to release a report by two senior judges on Zimbabwe’s 2002 presidential election, it appears that the Zuma administration (which has also been heavily involved with the situation in Libya — to the consternation of at least some observers) really is taking a harder stand on Mugabe than either Mandela or Mbeki ever did. The question, again, is whether he will follow through.

This is almost certainly going to be an ugly election cycle and its ugliness will correlate directly with the precariousness of Mugabe’s re-election bid. The old man says he is going to live to be 100. I can assure you that he plans to be in power for every one of those years.

AUTHOR: Derek Charles Catsam
E-MAIL: derekcatsam [at]


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