The situation in Zimbabwe continues to unravel.
Aging dictator Robert Mugabe is facing increased opposition due to the violent breakup of a prayer meeting last week. Those arrested were beaten badly, leading to many opposition leaders being emboldened and united, while western countries are discussing increased sanctions. Opposition leaders now have a face in opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, and Archbishop Ncube is urging churches to continue peaceful resistance even if the regeime responds violently against them.
Mugabe’s own party has some who oppose him, since his decision to run for another term while not designating a successor has made it impossible for others to seek to succeed him.
However, Mugabe’s Marxist credentials and credentials as a liberator have gained him protection from South Africa’s Mbeki despite pressure from the 2 million Zimbabwe refugees in that country, and pressure from South African churches and trade unions. Ex president Kaunda of Zambia, who had been removed from his own presidency for corruption, laments from exile that the West has no right to criticize Mugabe.
In the meanwhile, Angola, whose communist government had long been propped up by Cuban mercenaries, is sending 1000 elite police to assist in the crackdown, reinforcing Zimbabwean police who have been losing members due to poor pay. In addition, ZANU-PF’s trained youth militia AKA the “green bombers” continue to intimidate rural areas, and were involved in the beating of 14 activists on TuesdayLINK
Although this is in an African setting, the picture is all to familiar to those who study the sad history of communism and other dictatorships in the twentieth century.
What we see is what bluntly must be seen as communist true believers helping each other because their belief in Marxism outweighs other considerations. That is why Mugabe could bring in North Korea to train soldiers to destroy the “opposition” of the Ndebele tribe in the 1980’s with little outcry, and why Marxist leaders of Angola, Mozambique and South Africa hesitate to intervene. These presidents are still remembering the “us versus evil colonialist” struggle, ignoring the fact that their rise to power was helped by others, especially in South Africa.
Ironically, like the man who had one devil thrown out of him only to have seven devils return, this ideological blind spot ignores that the real alternative for their people is a free democratic state. Whether democracy can be grafted onto a tribal African culture is questionable, but given the large educated population of Zimbabwe, (many of whom have fled elsewhere for jobs) this argument may not be accurate.
However, if Mugabe is to be removed, South Africa will have to do it, either by applying pressure or by armed intervention.
The fact that Angola is sending that armed intervention in the guise of police paramilitaries to prop up the crumbling Mugabe government suggests that the good old boys network of Marxism is still alive and well, and the failure of Mbeki to even pressure the government suggests that ideological solidarity is more important than people’s lives.