March 31, 2005


Despite Discontent, Mugabe's Party Has Upper Hand in Vote: Opposition says fraud and intimidation will steer parliamentary poll today in Zimbabwe. (Robyn Dixon, March 31, 2005, LA Times)

The election is as much a test of Zimbabwe's longtime ruler, Robert Mugabe, as it is of African leaders' promise to uphold human rights and ensure elections are free and fair in order to win international investment.

This year, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice named Zimbabwe as an "outpost of tyranny," lumping it with repressive regimes in Myanmar, North Korea, Iran, Cuba and Belarus. South African President Thabo Mbeki, the continent's most influential leader, has advocated "quiet diplomacy" to persuade Mugabe to enact reforms, a strategy that has reaped little reward and divided Mbeki's African National Congress party. Mbeki has also said there is no reason to doubt that today's election will be fair.

"The collateral damage Zimbabwe has inflicted on the region, if not Africa as a whole, is immeasurable," wrote Dumisani Muleya, Zimbabwe correspondent for Business Day newspaper in South Africa. "Those efforts depend on African leaders' ability to tackle issues of democracy and governance in return for funding, but Mbeki and his colleagues have not fulfilled their side of the bargain. Zimbabwe is the test case."

South Africa's black leadership seems determined to fail the test.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 31, 2005 9:31 AM
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