Tuesday, September 19, 2006

"Let Mugabe stay in power"

Maputo - Forcing President Robert Mugabe out of power could compound Zimbabwe's political crisis and even lead to civil war, said Mozambique's respected former president Joaquim Chissano on Monday.

In an interview with Reuters, Chissano took issue with what he called a Western obsession with term limits for Africa's presidents, and was critical of calls to force Mugabe's departure after 26 years at the helm.

"If Mugabe steps down, what will happen then?" asked Chissano, whose country has historic ties with neighbouring Zimbabwe, forged during their wars against white rule.

"What is happening now is bad, but it could be worse - a big situation of violence could lead to internal war," he said....

He should know, since the result of his "war against white rule" lead to a communist dictatorship, civil war, economic collapse, and the deaths of a million people in famine from all of the above...

In democracy, the reason we have term limits is to assure peaceful transition of government.

The president knows he or she will leave, and so has no reason to kill opponants (who also know they have a chance to take over in the next election, so why bother to resort to violence?) In Parliementary systems, the parties, not the prime minister, are the ones who give this stability. (In the Philippines, there is a move to a parliementary system, which is bad since the parties are unstable...will probably lead to the "government of the week" such as Italy had in the 1950's, but since the parliement was stable, and opponants knew they had a chance without violence, the result was less political violence).

But who succeeds a dictator? Indeed, anyone who tries to get and use power, or builds a popular base, is seen as a threat...Dictators see anyone opposing them as a danger to their rule, and kill or exile them. As a result, anyone who might become a decent leader is removed, leaving "yes men" and liars in place.

This was the problem with kings.

If a good king died and left a good son in place, no problem.

If a king allowed the prime minister to do all the work, and merely chose those who did the best job, and when he died, his son did the same, it worked. Or if a king essentially co ruled with a strong Parliement, as in the UK, the Parliement gave stability to the government.

But, as history shows, civil wars often resulted after the death of a strong king who ruled without restraint of custom or parliement...

When all the power is vested in the King or dictator, what happens when a Strong kings is followed by a weak son, or a strong king gets old? He might be replaced by ambitious sons (King David and Absolom) or by wives (Czarina Catherine the Great) or the king might end up killing rivals, be they relatives or sons (Again, King David killing Sauls' family, or Ivan the Terrible killing his son).

THAT is the real problem of dictatorial goverments, be they kings or dictators: who will replace an aging dictator? Since dictatorship is not hereditary, (although in North Korea and Syria weaker sons did take over) who takes over?

In communist Russia and China, there were institutions that essentially allowed power to be transferred without civil war. Would the army do so in Zimbabwe?

Because without an institutional way to replace Mugabe, the result of his "dictatorship" for life is worse than civil war.

It will be anarchy as numerous groups vie for power without restraint against a population that has no tradition of self defense.

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