April 25, 2003


Fighting Africa's Saddam (Nancy Palus, April 24, 2003, Slate)
Zimbabwe's newspapers depicted this week's massive strike as a potentially decisive standoff between the government and an increasingly strident opposition. The strike, endorsed by the country's main opposition party, is seen as more than an airing of workers' grievances; it is yet another sign that the Zimbabwean people are losing patience with a government that has thrown the former jewel of Africa into economic free-fall. Britain's Guardian called the strike and a similar walkout last month "a stinging vote of no-confidence by the workers in President Robert Mugabe's economic policies." Zimbabwe, once one of Africa's most prosperous and promising nations, is in economic ruin. Food shortages have left more than half the country's 11.3 million people hungry and dependent on outside aid. Inflation stands at 228 percent; unemployment at more than 60 percent.

The three-day work stoppage, called by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, is a response to the government's recently imposed 200 percent fuel-price hike. The ZCTU is closely linked to the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, which led a nationwide walkout last month. The MDC's endorsement of this week's strike fueled political tension in the country, since Mugabe accuses the MDC of manipulating the public into staging such protests.

An op-ed in the opposition Daily News compared Mugabe's rule to the tyranny of Saddam Hussein. Titled, "Violent regimes leave no option but war," the commentary said the coalition invasion of Iraq was "desperately needed ... for the good of the people" in order to remove "a heinous regime." It continued, "That is certainly the case I would put for removing the present regime in Zimbabwe." Britain's Independent reported that there is a new catchphrase among Zimbabwe's unemployed youth: "Mr. Bush, when are you coming to liberate us?"

To paraphrase the neocons, a conservative is a liberal who wants to regime change Mugabe. Posted by Orrin Judd at April 25, 2003 9:54 AM
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