Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Zim: A regional solution?

The regime needs external financial support to maintain its patronage networks and shore up the economy before risking elections (or before desperate people riot), and its request for a rescue package gives the regional initiative crucial leverage if SADC is willing to use it. Nevertheless, the challenges are daunting. Mugabe outmanoeuvred rivals in March 2007 to gain the ZANU-PF nomination for a new term. The party seeks to bypass Mbeki's mediation by advancing a unilateral constitutional amendment that would tighten its hold on power by rigging the electoral process and ensuring it can name an eventual successor to Mugabe without a new popular vote. The MDC is bitterly divided and appears unable to mobilise effective opposition.

South Africa and the SADC mistrust the MDC, especially its larger faction led by Morgan Tsvangirai, and would like to see a government of national unity emerge led by a reformed ZANU-PF. Some SADC leaders remain Mugabe supporters, and there is a risk the organisation will accept cosmetic changes that further entrench the status quo. The ultimate objective of the reform process, however, is not regime change as such but to guarantee that all adult citizens can freely and fairly choose their rulers and that an electorally legitimated government can reengage with donors to turn the economy around. There is little likelihood that the opposition - so long as it remains badly fractured -...

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