Friday, August 19, 2005

Mugabe's regieme: an end in sight?


The International herald Tribune thinks so, since the country is on the verge of collapse...

Mugabe, 81, has finally run out of options. Zimbabwe's treasury is bare. The scraps of foreign exchange on which the tattered country had been relying for derisory amounts of imported fuel, power and essential goods are now gone. No one - not even China, Malaysia and Libya, Mugabe's usual patrons of last resort - will lend the required $1 billion or so for which Zimbabwe has recently been begging.
Given a permanent cold shoulder by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, Mugabe has had nowhere else to turn but to South Africa, his indulgent neighbor. South Africa has watched with horror as Mugabe systematically cultivated internal chaos. Thabo Mbeki, South Africa's president, nevertheless perversely refused to condemn Mugabe's outrages, persistently promising President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair that "quiet diplomacy" would turn Mugabe around.
It never did. But this month Mugabe finally had to go hat in hand to Mbeki, asking for hundreds of millions, if not the full $1 billion. In exchange for such a cash infusion, South Africa has demanded that Mugabe negotiate in good faith with Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change, an opposition political party that European, American and some African observers believe actually won the rigged elections of 2000, 2002 and 2005.
"Never!" was Mugabe's initial petulant reaction. South Africa threatened to withhold its bailout. It also unleashed a regional diplomatic firestorm. President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria, chairman of the African Union, told Mugabe that he had to think again - that his time of tyranny was at an end. Obasanjo dispatched Joaquim Chissano, former president of Mozambique, to make sure Mugabe understood what he had to do. Chissano was instructed to moderate discussions between Tsvangirai and Mugabe that would lead to Zimbabwe's political and economic reconstruction, and possibly to properly supervised new elections.
The soft landing that is being forged would send Mugabe to comfortable exile, possibly in Namibia. Some kind of transitional coalition between the opposition and Mugabe's henchmen would begin the long, hard process of restoring sanity to the country's economy. It would also dismantle the baleful apparatus of tyranny and create a political climate conducive to wholesale reform.


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