Saturday, March 16, 2002

Zim Watch

Two pieces of sense in, of all places, the Guardian letters page. Ignoring the first (barking) letter, the other two say that this election is no different from Kenya's or Nigeria's (both Anglophone countries friendly to the West) and that if Mugabe has polarised the country, that must mean that there is an opposite pole to the urban pro-Western opposition.

Meanwhile Mugabe clamps down on the press (the opposition supporting Daily News doesn't seem to have published since Thursday). Unions have also been harrassed (they are the cradle of the MDC).

The commonwealth will meet on Tuesday to decide what to do about Zim. Neither side is likely to move, despite increasingly less veiled threats of a cut off of bribes, sorry aid. The commonwealth observer group has condemned the election.

Nigeria and South Africa push for a coalition government. This is roughly what Tsvangarai had also proposed before the count, even if they are spurning the idea now - as is Zanu. Zambia is getting jitters, even when they are congratulating Mugabe. Meanwhile Jacob Zuma, South Africa's deputy president has both called for an "inclusive" government, while at the same time congratulating Mugabe. It is not just whoever's responsible for Mbeki's e-mail who seems confused.

The real key to this will be what the African governments do. Zanu is cracking up, and Zimbabwe's neighbours are jumpy about both the economic disruption that could spread from Zimbabwe and the precedent that any intervention would set regarding African sovereignty.

This will probably be the last Zim Watch, unless Britain starts talking seriously about military intervention. An African intervention will be none of our business, as would any non-intervention.


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