Sunday, June 18, 2006

Is a storm coming?

...The International Crisis Group, a Brussels-based think-tank run by retired statesmen, last week issued a report on Zimbabwe warning of possible political instability and violence in the country.

It said Zimbabwe was almost irretrievably hurtling towards being a failed state plagued by insecurity and chaos. It said the risk of anarchy was high because of the current political turmoil, economic emergency, heightened repression and deepening public anger.

The group noted Mugabe's regime is increasingly becoming "desperate and dangerous" due to its growing paranoia caused by rising opposition to its policies and international isolation.

While chances of Zimbabwe becoming stateless are very slim, there are conditions on the ground which provide a hotbed for political turbulence.

The country is fractured on many fronts. Divisions within Zanu PF and the MDC are now as profound as the differences between them. The two parties are reeling from vicious power struggles.

The Zanu PF situation is more scary because of the scamble to succeed Mugabe. It is not clear what is likely to happen after Mugabe but there are fears Zanu PF will split into at least two factions along regional and ethnic fault lines. If that were to happen, it would create a breeding ground for instability and violence.

Zanu PF appears fragile because of its regional and tribal anatomy. In the past the party showed signs of volatility and strain, especially in a state of political flux where shifts and changes in dynamics were difficult to manage.

Zanu PF camps are already wound up for a fight. The Tsholotsho episode cast the die. The internal wrangling could yield a powerful group which may sort out the situation. The defeated group might fall in line, scatter into a toothless rabble or wreak political havoc unless contained.

In the process, it is possible a new leader would emerge to unite the factions. A realignment of forces might take place and resolve the situation.

It is however also possible the army might intervene claiming to be trying to restore order. The danger of military intervention now looms large given the ongoing militarisation of state institutions....

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