Friday, August 15, 2008

A Scandal in Africa

The NYReview of Books

.... Mugabe and the cabal that supports him have seemed to enjoy flaunting their contempt for democracy and their easy embrace of violence.

That cabal is led by hard-line members of the Zimbabwean military and a handful of cabinet officials who served alongside Mugabe in the independence war of the 1970s. They include the commander in chief of Zimbabwe's armed forces, General Constantine Chiwenga, and Emerson Mnangagwa, an heir apparent to Mugabe who, as minister of national security in 1983, allegedly oversaw the massacre of thousands of political opponents in Matabeleland. "He is a man with the capacity to be more vicious than Mugabe," I was told by University of Zimbabwe political analyst John Makumbe.

Mnangagwa was one of the principal orchestrators of the campaign of violence and intimidation against the opposition launched in April—known as CIBD, or Coercion, Intimidation, Beating, and Displacement. (According to recent reports, over a hundred opposition supporters have been killed and more than 200,000 displaced.) And Mugabe, after initially conceding defeat in private and considering resignation or negotiation, quickly embraced the hard-liners' position. "We are not going to give up our country because of a mere X," Mugabe declared in the midst of his bloody campaign last month, rejecting any pretense of a legitimate election. "How can a ballpoint pen fight with a gun?"...

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