March 29, 2007


In Zimbabwe, even loyalists are disloyal: His own party, the army and police are all ready for Mugabe, 83, to go. (Robyn Dixon, March 29, 2007, LA Times)

Even as Mugabe cracks down on the opposition, his support among core backers has evaporated as hyperinflation eats into the business interests of ruling party heavyweights and gobbles police and army wages, causing mass desertions.

"The internal problems we have got are much larger than the problems created by the MDC," said the party official. "I don't think that even the president worries about the MDC. He's much more worried about what is happening in his own party."

The official's willingness to talk, even anonymously for fear of political reprisal, is a sign of the divisions in ZANU-PF and the difficulties Mugabe faces in overcoming party opposition to his plans to run for president again next year. Internal party opposition has already forced him to abandon a bid to extend his term to 2010.

African leaders, normally mute about Zimbabwe's human rights abuses and economic collapse, also have grown more alarmed since Tsvangirai and dozens of other activists were arrested and beaten in the capital, Harare, on March 11. About 100 activists have been hospitalized since then. Many were abducted from their homes and severely beaten, often with iron bars.

On Wednesday, at least nine other opposition leaders were arrested overnight, said opposition spokesman Eliphas Mukonoweshuro. Tsvangirai was released unharmed several hours later.

The opposition is demanding a new constitution leading to free and fair elections next year and is reportedly willing to offer Mugabe immunity from prosecution. Without reform, it has threatened to boycott next year's election.

Leaders of the Southern African Development Community, a regional group, will hold an emergency meeting in Tanzania today at which they are expected to press Mugabe to spell out plans to retire and ensure an orderly transition.

The small ruling party clique that still supports Mugabe argues that ZANU-PF will collapse in chaos if he goes.

Progress often depends on a period of chaos.

Africa: How we killed our dreams of freedom: Across the continent, liberation movements that fought against colonial rule proved unable to sustain democratic governance. We cannot keep blaming the past. (William Gumede, 02 April 2007, New Statesman)

In the inner sanctum of South Africa's ruling African National Congress they have coined a word for it: "Zanufication". As Zimbabweans flee across the border to avoid police brutality or the hardships of an economy in free fall (inflation at more than 1,700 per cent and shortages of basic foodstuffs), they whisper it in hushed tones, a warning.

A senior national executive member of the ANC, Blade Nzim ande, warned recently: "We must study closely what is happening in Zimbabwe, because if we don't, we may find features in our situation pointing to a similar development."

Unions, sections within civil society and church groups daily inveigh against the South African government's head-in-the-sand policy towards Zimbabwe and President Thabo Mbeki's "quiet" diplomacy. The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has complained to the South African Broadcasting Corporation, the public broadcaster, over its failure to cover the Zimbabwean meltdown. Although the ANC in South Africa and Zanu-PF are light years apart, the spectre of "Zanufication" haunts South Africa, raising the question: "Is there something inherent in the political culture of liberation movements that makes it difficult for them to sustain democratic platforms?"

The irony is that it is the leaders of former heroic liberation movements who have become stumbling blocks to building a political culture on the African continent based on good governance.

How would movements that are reactions to the West be Western?

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 29, 2007 6:48 AM

"The small ruling party clique that still supports Mugabe argues that ZANU-PF will collapse in chaos if he goes."

They say that as if it was a bad thing. A little chaos might result in a number of them departing this vale of tears.

Posted by: Mikey [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 29, 2007 7:48 AM